27 December 2015: Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) during the NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire)
Chicago Bears

Five things we learned in the Bears’ preseason loss against Chiefs

(Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire)

The Chicago Bears played their dress rehearsal, third preseason game Saturday afternoon at Soldier Field to mixed reviews. The defense has holes but hung tough and looks ready for the opener. The offense needs script changes and a lot more rehearsal time. Unfortunately, they’re not going to get any. This show opens in less than two weeks.

All that remains from the rubble of this game is to look back and see what we can learn. Here are five things that emerged from the Bears 23-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Ryan Pace Got Free Agency Right on Defense

Akiem Hicks was a step slow in getting to quarterback Alex Smith on the Chiefs’ first drive of the game. He took advantage of his second opportunity to register his first sack with the Bears.

Jerrell Freeman got beat in coverage on a short sideline route early but otherwise he and Danny Trevathan pursued plays with a vengeance.

Hicks, teamed with tackle Eddie Goldman, played a key role in the consistent push the Bears achieved off the line of scrimmage. That’s why the Bears were able to hold strong on the Chiefs’ first two trips into the red zone and why they only surrendered 80 rushing yards on 25 carries.

Jury is Still Out on the Secondary

Smith threw 30 times, completing 20 for 181 yards. To be fair to the Bears, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has been using a lot of man-to-man coverage this preseason, likely as a crash-course in getting his young cornerbacks and safeties prepared for the season. They were also playing off the line of scrimmage, allowing the Chiefs’ receivers room to successfully run the short and intermediate routes.

The Bears got better results when they switched to press coverage and impeded Kansas City’s receivers off the line of scrimmage. Expect to see more press along with increased zone looks when the Bears open the season in Houston against the Texans.

Fourth round draft pick Deiondre’ Hall again showed the steep learning curve ahead of him. Overall, he played well in coverage, but showed his continued lack of ball awareness when, on Kansas City’s first drive in the third quarter, he nearly tripped over Tyreek Hill on a 58-yard third down completion.

The other significant development from this game is the emergence of Harold Jones-Quartey at safety. He led the defense with six tackles and appears to have locked down a starting spot at safety opposite Adrian Amos. We’ll know for certain next Thursday night if he’s standing on the sidelines with a cap on instead of a helmet.

Offensive line will be a work in progress all season

Chicago’s starters and reserves were beaten all day and the Chiefs didn’t have Tamba Hali or Justin Houston on the field. Ted Larson slid over to right guard in place of the injured Kyle Long and got beat just as thoroughly as he has at center and left guard.

With the losses of Hroniss Grasu and now Long, the Bears have had no opportunity to build cohesiveness in front of Jay Cutler. The resulting breakdowns in communications have left them vulnerable to blitzes. It’s also led to inconsistencies in the running game.

Unfortunately for the Bears there’s nothing they can do at this point. Starting caliber linemen don’t become available on the waiver wire. The only way to improve this situation is continue to work and hope the group they have develops.

Kevin White hasn’t just been kept under wraps

17 August 2016: Chicago Bears wide receiver Kevin White (13) interviewed during a joint New England Patriots and Chicago Bears training camp at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photograph by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)

(Photograph by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)

The question of whether the Bears were just keeping White under wraps for the regular season or if his development has really been this slow was answered Saturday. His development has been slow. He still has a lot to learn to realize his potential as a Pro Bowl caliber receiver.

White has been targeted eight times this summer with only three catches. He made his one catch against the Chiefs by coming back to the ball for a three-yard gain. Later in the half he failed to square off his route and saw a Cutler pass sail over his head, out-of-bounds.

Like the offensive line, White is going to be a season-long project with the hope that he’ll have grown by Week 17.

There’s still no rhythm or identity on offense

The Bears’ starting offense didn’t cross midfield in its five first-half possessions. Cutler only managed six completions in 15 attempts in his two-quarters plus of action.

Three of those incompletions were passes grounded in front of open receivers, but he was also the victim of key drops. One of those was by Alshon Jeffery, who had an entire field of open space spread before him but let the ball roll from his fingers.

The Bears showed no consistently on offense until third-string quarterback Connor Shaw replaced an injured Brian Hoyer and moved the Bears the final 48 yards in their fourth quarter touchdown drive. Even that bright spot ended in disaster when Shaw suffered a broken leg on the fourth play of the following drive. He’ll be lost for the season.

The Bears’ roster will be cut to 75 by Tuesday afternoon. The remaining roster battles will take place next Thursday night in Cleveland against the Browns.

Five things we learned in the Bears’ preseason loss against Chiefs

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