Dalton, Bears starting offense off to slow start
The preseason is for knocking off the rust, and the Bears first-team offense looked like it had plenty of rust to knock off Saturday.
Quarterback Andy Dalton and the first-team offense failed to convert a first down on two possessions and totaled 24 yards on six plays in a 20-13 victory over the Miami Dolphins at Soldier Field.
In fairness to the starters, they were playing without receiver Allen Robinson -- who warmed up pregame but did not play -- and three starters on the offensive line. Left tackle Teven Jenkins (back), right tackle Germain Ifedi (hip) and right guard James Daniels (quad) all sat out Saturday's game. Starting running back David Montgomery checked out after only one carry.
The starters' first drive went nowhere. The second drive went backward, thanks to a penalty on right guard Alex Bars, and never recovered. The penalty wiped away an 11-yard gain by running back Damien Williams.
"We stalled early and that was tough," Dalton said. "Second drive we had out there, we got the first down and had the penalty that kind of set us back. It would've been nice to get a little bit more of a rhythm, but it's the preseason."
Dalton finished the day 2-for-4 passing for 18 yards. Head coach Matt Nagy said he's not putting too much stock in the performance because of all the missing players and because it was a small sample size.
"It was hard because it was only a few drives and it was three-and-outs," Nagy said. "I'll go back and watch the tape and see some of the whys."
The coach said going through the preseason, for the starters, is about getting that rhythm back.
"It's more so to let them go through pregame," Nagy said. "Let them get out there, get the feeling of what it's like to just run a few plays and get out. So it's hard to evaluate that."
No shows and injury updates:
The Bears played without numerous starters on defense as well. Alec Ogletree and Christian Jones started at inside linebacker in place of injured Roquan Smith (groin) and Danny Trevathan (knee).
Safety Eddie Jackson has been back at practice and warmed up prior to the game, but appeared to have the day off Saturday. He did not play in the game. Defensive backs Desmond Trufant, Tashaun Gipson and Artie Burns also did not play. Safeties Deon Bush and DeAndre Houston-Carson earned the starts in place of Jackson and Gipson. Kindle Vildor started at cornerback. Duke Shelley earned the start as the nickelback.
Defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, fresh off the reserve/COVID-19 list, was not dressed.
Offensive line shuffling:
With the presumed starting tackles out, Bears second-year pro Lachavious Simmons saw significant playing time at right tackle Saturday. While Dalton and the first-team receivers and running backs played only two possessions, the first-team offensive line played most of the first half. The lineup looked like this: Elijah Wilkinson at left tackle, Cody Whitehair at left guard, Sam Mustipher at center, Alex Bars at right guard and Simmons at right tackle.
Despite all the shuffling on the offensive line, the Bears did not allow a sack.
"There's been a lot of guys that have been put in a lot of different positions just because of everything that's gone on up front," Dalton said. "But I thought our guys did a great job today. A great job in protection, a great job in the run game."
News broke moments after the game that the Bears are adding former Pro Bowl tackle Jason Peters via free agency, according to Peters' agent. Nagy said Peters was joining the Bears with the intention of battling for the starting left tackle position. What that means for Jenkins' status moving forward is unclear.
Peters, a nine-time Pro Bowler, spent the past 11 years with Philadelphia.
Special teams outlook:
Rookie running back Khalil Herbert earned the first kick return for the Bears, while defensive back Jordan Lucas fielded the first punt. Lucas and receiver Chris Lacy both had kick returns of 27 yards. Jon'Vea Johnson had a 26-yard kick return.
The Bears are looking to replace former kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson, who left in free agency for Atlanta.