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Four takeaways from the final Bears preseason game: Justin Fields and offense still have work to do

Nicholas Moreano Avatar
August 26, 2023

CHICAGO — Who says the preseason doesn’t matter?

With less than two minutes remaining and the Bears down by three points to the Bills on Saturday, the remaining Bears fans at Soldier Field began a “defense” chant hoping their beloved team could get one final stop to potentially win the game.

A play later, the Bills secured the first down and were able to milk the clock and win the game 24-21.

The Bears finish the preseason 1-2 and now have 15 days to prepare for their Week 1 matchup against the Green Bay Packers.

Here are my top four takeaways from Saturday’s third preseason game against the Bills.

Bears QB Justin Fields and first-team offense still have work to do

Fields played 13 snaps against the Bills on Saturday. He finished 2-of-6 for 51 yards. On the Bears’ third offensive possession, Fields completed a screen pass to D’Onta Forman on third-and-10 and the running back picked up 11 yards to move the chains.

That was Fields’ last play of the game. Fields and coach Matt Eberflus both said in their postgame press conferences that it was designed and Fields had reached his set play number.

On that play, though, Fields also took a hit — which shouldn’t be happening on a screen pass.

“I wasn’t excited that he got hit on that one,” Eberflus said. “It was a screen pass. It wasn’t supposed to be like that. He was supposed to drift a little bit more, but he did fine.”

Fields only other completion was an explosive play to DJ Moore. Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy called a play-action pass and Fields found Moore in the middle of the field. Moore went low to make the catch, but also kept his balance and avoided some defenders to gain 40 yards on the play.

The yards after the catch worked for the Bears’ first-team offense on Saturday, but the downfield throws still need some work. Fields missed on a throw to Moore and also Darnell Mooney.

“I’m just glad today that I got a couple of deep shots on the field, although we didn’t connect,” Fields said. “It felt good to just run the ball downfield to DJ. We just talked about it, so it felt good. I think the only thing now is just game-planning and
watching film on those guys.”

Fields did mention on the throw to Moore on third-and-10 that he could’ve put the ball on more of the back shoulder to give his receiver a better chance of making a play. Fields was just grateful that Moore “prevented an interception” on that throw.

In total, Fields has played 20 snaps in the preseason and also got some valuable reps in the joint practices against the Colts. Even though there haven’t been many opportunities to push the ball downfield, Fields feels good about where he is at heading into Week 1.

I feel like I’m ready,” Fields said. “I think us as a whole team are ready. I think the biggest thing is just, of course, mentally preparing for Green Bay and seeing what they’re doing.”

Tyson Bagent No. 2 quarterback?

Just like Bagent did against the Colts a week ago, the undrafted rookie quarterback led the offense down the field for a touchdown drive that was capped off with Bagent rushing for a score.

But this time Bagent went out with the No. 2 offense — something the coaching staff did by design for the young quarterback.

“It was fun,” Bagent said. “Just kind of like last week, another opportunity to showcase my talent, show I belong. So it was exciting, especially being at home.”

Bagent finished the game 7-of-14 for 43 yards and threw an interception a play after tight end Stephen Carlson dropped what should’ve been a 26-yard touchdown pass.

“I think kind of especially as a quarterback you kind of have no choice but to play the next play, if the prior play was really good or really bad,” Bagent said. Then being able to come back and definitely I was working the right side, working the correct side based on what the defense was providing. Just kind of got to keep it low — keep my back foot loaded and progress out because I think people see that the flat ended up breaking open just because the slant got ran into by the flat defender.”

P.J. Walker had a better statistical game against the Bills than what he did a week ago in Indianapolis. Walker finished 6 of 11 for 71 yards and threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Robert Burns.

Other the next few days, Eberflus, Ryan Poles, Ian Cunningham and the coordinators will get together to make some tough decisions with cutting down the roster. One of the biggest decisions will be who becomes the No. 2 quarterback.

We have to see where it is,” Eberflus said. “We’re going to sit down as a group and talk about it, and we’ll see where it is. You know, no decisions have been made. So we just are
going to sit down as a group, watch the tape, and then talk about what the best thing for the Bears is. That’s what we always do, what’s best for the Bears.”

Trevis Gipson received permission to seek trade

The Thor hammer may have been thrown one last time at Soldier Field. Gipson showed good bend around the right tackle and swiped down at the quarterback’s hand, which knocked out the football. Noah Sewell recovered the ball, and Gipson celebrated on the field, and then gave the football from the strip-sack to a fan in the stands who was wearing his No. 99 jersey.

Less than an hour before Gipson’s sack, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler came out with a report that Gipson “has received permission from the Bears to seek a trade.”

The timing is interesting considering Gipson had been having a productive preseason and appeared to have a shot of staying with the team. Terrell Lewis was Gipson’s primary competition for potentially the last spot on the roster.

“Yeah, I’m not going to really comment on that because I don’t know much about that,” Eberflus said. “I know that just came out. But I can just say this: Trevis is an outstanding young man, and he works his tail off, and he’s been great since he’s been there. He had some good plays out there today too.”

Gipson was not present in the locker room after the loss to the Bills.  

Tyrique Stevenson mixed results

The second-round draft pick out of Miami showed some good and bad results in the loss against the Bills. On the Bills first drive of the game, Stevenson was penalized for defensive holding on first-and-goal. The next play after the penalty, the Bills scored a touchdown.

On the next defensive series, Stevenson was again penalized for defensive holding. But four plays later, the rookie cornerback played tight coverage on wide receiver Gabe Davis and intercepted Kyle Allen. Stevenson nearly came away with an interception in the first two preseason games, but couldn’t finish on both instances. This time, Stevenson seized his opportunity by turning back to the football and getting two feet in bounds near the sideline.

Unfortunately for Stevenson, his day also included getting beat for a 29-yard touchdown. Tight end Quintin Morris ran a post route and got inside leverage on Stevenson. The young cornerback tried to undercut the route, but didn’t have the right angle — which allowed Morris to walk into the end zone.

This third preseason game summed up Stevenson’s entire training camp and preseason. Mixture of good and bad, which shouldn’t be all to surprising. Stevenson will have to prove he can be more disciplined and consistent with his hands to ensure the penalties don’t linger throughout the course of the season.

“I feel like it could’ve been a lot better,” Stevenson said when how his preseason went. “I feel like I made some rookie mistakes, but I also felt like I grew in my knowledge in how I understand this game. But I just feel like I got to prove a lot more come Game 1.”

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