Fields-Getsy pairing among five things to watch in Bears vs. Chiefs originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The first game of the Matt Eberflus era kicks off Saturday at noon when the Bears welcome old friend Matt Nagy and the Kansas City Chiefs to Soldier Field for their preseason opener.
Through 13 days of training camp, the Bears have lost several players to various unknown ailments and are now dealing with Roquan Smith's hold-in sideshow.
Nevertheless, Justin Fields and the starters will play between 15 and 20 snaps Saturday as Eberflus gets the first real look at where his team stands.
It's the preseason, so much of it won't matter, but we can still learn something about the 2022 Bears from the 60 minutes of football they play Saturday.
Here are our five things to watch for in the Bears' preseason opener:
Justin Fields' comfort in Luke Getsy's offense
For the most part, the Bears' offense has been a clunky mess during training camp. Almost none of that falls on Fields.
The Bears spent most of camp rotating a host of offensive linemen and wide receivers in with the first team.
The result? Pre-snap penalties, alignment issues, and a lot of pressure on Fields, who has had to tuck it and run far too often.
Even the Bears' best play from Wednesday's practice came out of an incorrect formation.
But Fields has looked solid for most of camp. He spent the last week working without many of his top targets but has been able to modify the offense and make quick decisions to get the unit moving.
Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy has had Fields on the move for most of camp via designed rollouts and bootlegs. The Bears also have showcased QB run game wrinkles in the red zone and started dusting off the playbook's RPO section over the past two days.
Even if Fields only gets two series (likely), it will be interesting to see how he operates Getsy's offense against another defense and if this attack actually will be tailored to what the second-year quarterback does well.
The scheme has looked good in practice. The execution has been lacking. We'll see it in action finally Saturday against the Chiefs starters.
Is this the starting O-line?
The O-line shuffling has been constant for the Bears during camp.
They brought in Michael Schofield and Riley Reiff at the start of camp. Then, Lucas Patrick went down. Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom have slid down the depth chart, and rookie Braxton Jones appears to have solidified himself as the starting left tackle.
Getsy said he believes the Bears still aren't close in their search for the best O-line combination. But the same unit has gotten almost all of the first-team snaps over the past week.
LT: Braxton Jones
LG: Cody Whitehair
C: Sam Mustipher
RG: Michael Schofield
RT: Riley Reiff
That unit still has had issues in pass protection, but the run game, what little we can evaluate of it, has looked solid.
Reiff passed Borom during the Bears' first-padded practice, while Schofield fought off a light challenge from rookie Ja'Tyre Carter. Mustipher's experience likely gave him an edge over Doug Kramer.
It's not set in stone, but this will likely be the five who take the field Week 1 against the 49ers.
Can they keep the heat off Fields? Are they successful at opening holes for Khalil Herbert in the wide-zone scheme? Or do they leave the door open for Carter, Kramer, Jenkins, or Borom to re-enter the conversation?
It's almost impossible to truly evaluate trench play in practice. This will give us an accurate gauge of where the O-line stands.
Pressure the QB
The only team to blitz less than the Bears over the last four seasons was the Colts under Eberflus. So, don't expect defensive coordinator Alan Williams to be dialing up a ton of exotic pressures this season.
The Bears are going to rely on the front four to get home. They are the "engine" of the defense, according to Trevis Gipson.
The Bears' front four, especially Robert Quinn, Justin Jones, and Al-Quadin Muhammad, have hounded Fields during the first two weeks of training camp. Gipson, Dominique Robinson, and Khyiris Tonga also have gotten in on the fun.
But how much of their camp success is due to the Bears' uncertain offensive line situation?
We've watched Jones swallow up Carter and blow past Kramer. Quinn has baptized Jones a few times, and Gipson dominated Borom during the first padded practice.
The pressure has been relentless, but is it for real? Or a camp mirage?
Welcome to the NFL, Takeaway King
Rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon is unlikely to play Saturday after missing the last week of camp with a "day-by-day" injury.
So fellow second-round pick Jaquan Brisker will have the spotlight all to himself during his first NFL action.
The Penn State product was seemingly born with Eberflus' HITS principle coursing through his veins. He's always around the football and is dying to hit someone.
He also has quickly bonded with veteran safety Eddie Jackson.
Brisker's willingness to play down in the box will allow Jackson to do what he does best, roam the backend of the defense, read the quarterback, and make plays.
But Saturday will give us our first glimpse into how the rookie and veteran communicate on the Bears' backend and will also allow Brisker to announce himself to the Bears' fanbase.
"Just want to his someone really," Brisker said when asked what he was looking forward to about his first NFL game. "Probably get a turnover immediately."
Seize the opportunity
The Bears are going to be without several offensive weapons Saturday. Byron Pringle, N'Keal Harry, and David Moore are out, while Velus Jones Jr., Cole Kmet, and David Montgomery are not expected to play.
That means Saturday will provide an opportunity for Tajae Sharpe, Isaiah Coulter, Dazz Newsome, Dante Pettis, and Kevin Shaa to make a move for one of the final roster spots.
Sharpe has been solid ever since coming off the Non-Football Injury list. The veteran has showcased good chemistry with Fields while taking first-team reps alongside Darnell Mooney and Equanimeous St. Brown.
Coulter made the most of his opportunity with the first team Wednesday when he and Fields linked up for two chunk plays during team drills.
Newsome had a great first week of camp but has been quiet over the last few days while working mainly with the second team.
With so many players not expected to play, there will be plenty of snaps for Sharpe, Coulter, Newsome, Pettis, and Shaa on Saturday. Will anyone make a move to solidify a roster spot?
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