By Herb Howard
Ryan Poles appears to have drafted four starters in Trenton Gill, Braxton Jones, Jaquan Brisker, and his top pick Kyler Gordon, who wasn’t even on the field yesterday.
The Chicago Bears defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 19-14 Saturday afternoon at Soldier Field. Starting the preseason 1-0 means almost nothing, but there were some things that did matter in the first football game of this new regime. First year General Manager Ryan Poles had to be thrilled with what he saw from his Draft class. Several of the Bears Rookies met or even exceeded expectations in their NFL debut.
That's Brisk Baby!
I’ve been saying all summer that I couldn't wait to see 2nd round pick Jaquan Brisker in an actual game. I think he is going to be a phenomenal player in this league, and he did not disappoint in his first game. #9 was all over the field! Making plays on Tight Ends, Wide Receivers, Running Backs, and Quarterbacks. He nearly came up with his first interception on a play that showed his great instincts and explosive burst. The intended receiver got just enough of his hand on the ball to prevent the turnover, and the ball fell harmlessly to the ground, but that play was a sign of what Bears fans can look forward to for years to come. Jaquan’s rare combination of size and athleticism allow him to not only be a hawk when the ball is in the air, but an intimidating presence in the defensive backfield, and an enforcer versus the run game. If there were any questions about the playmaking ability of the Safety from Penn State, he answered them against the Chiefs.
Braxton Jones continues to impress
If excited is the word I would use to describe my anticipation of seeing Jaquan Brisker play, curiosity is what I felt as it related to seeing 5th round pick Braxton Jones in his first NFL game at Left Tackle. The Rookie from Southern Utah had impressed since the day the Bears drafted him. He quickly ascended to the top of the depth chart this spring, and has held off Riley Reiff, whom the Bears brought in just before training camp, forcing the veteran over to play Right Tackle. A review of the tape will be necessary to fully assess how Jones performed Saturday, but he appeared to more than hold his own. He was not clearly beaten physically, and didn’t appear to make any egregious mental errors. Speaking to him in the locker room after the game, Braxton told me that the game was actually slower than in practice. He said that going against Robert Quinn in training camp prepared him for the moment. In fact, he told me that he had to slow himself down because he was the one speeding up the game in his own mind. He felt comfortable on the field, and looks forward to continuing to improve everyday. Braxton Jones has impressed since the day the Bears drafted him, and if the 5th round pick from Southern Utah continues to play well as the starting Left Tackle, he could be the steal of the Draft.
Keep your eyes on these Bears...
The Chicago Bears seem to have found themselves another good Running back in the late rounds of the Draft. Last year the Bears drafted RB Khalil Herbert in the 6th Rd and he had productive rookie year, and figures to be a major contributor in the offense this year. This year they took Trestan Ebner in the 6th round, and the Rookie from Baylor had himself a day. Ebner ripped off a 27-yard run, in which displayed the elusiveness he’s been touted and some surprising physicality. He also caught a 12-yard touchdown pass, showing good route running ability, great hands, and the power to finish at the goal line. Trestan admitted to me that he needs to improve as a blocker in pass protection. But when he does, he could be pushing Khalil Herbert for that number 2 RB spot behind starter David Montgomery.
Everyone has been intrigued by the athleticism of Defensive End Dominique Robinson, whom the Bears drafted in the 5th round this year. We got to see that athleticism in game action for the first time Saturday. Robinson recorded a sack in the game, utilizing a quick first step and rare acceleration. Dominique told me in the locker room that Offensive Tackle turned him lose, and that by the time the running back tried to come over and pick him up it was too late. He said at the point it was just a footrace between him and the quarterback and that the QB is never going to win that race. Robinson, a former college Wide Receiver turned Defensive End, still has a lot to learn and veterans ahead of him on the depth chart. But if he continues to show and prove, the Bears are going to have to find ways to get him on the field.
A player Bears fans better get very familiar with is Punter Trenton Gill. The Bears drafted him in the 7th round of this year’s Draft, and he is going to see a lot of action for this young football team that is still trying to figure things our offensively. The Bears are going to need Gill to be a weapon in the kicking game. He is going to have to keep them ahead in the field position game. Saturday, he did just that, with a masterful punting performance. Gill had two punts downed inside the five-yard line, and just narrowly missed a third on a punt that bounce twice inside the 5 yard line before rolling into the endzone just before the coverage unit could stop it. Trenton told me that it’s his job to help the Defense, and that he views the game as a competition between him and the opposing punter for field position. We’re probably going to see the Punter more than we’d prefer this year but at least the Bears appear to have a good one.
MVB: Most Valuable Bear
Without question, the Player of The Game was Linebacker Jack Sanborn. Yet another Rookie, Sanborn, was signed as an Undrafted Free Agent out of Wisconsin. Against the Chiefs he recorded an interception, recovered a fumble, had 5 tackles, including one for a loss. Sanborn has been impressive throughout training camp, and seems well on his way to earning a roster spot. I don’t think he’ll be a major contributor for this Defense as a Rookie but he could certainly become an important Special Teams player for this Bears team.
It has been an interesting week for Ryan Poles, with critics saying that he is mishandled the Roquan Smith negotiations. Whether you believe that to be true or not, you have to give him credit for his draft class. Poles appears to have drafted four starters in Gill, Jones, Brisker, and his top pick Kyler Gordon, who wasn’t even on the field yesterday. He may also get significant contributions from several others. That is a great haul in any year, but when you factor in that the Bears did not have 1st round pick in the Draft, it becomes even more impressive. They still have a lot more work to do if they are going to prove to be consistent performers, but it was certainly a stellar start for these Bears Rookies, and for now, I have to say it looks like these kids can play.