Decent start: Bears come back in 2nd half, beat Chiefs 19-14 in preseason opener
Sound, fundamental football.
And all-out hustle.
That's what we were looking for from the Bears during their preseason opener against the Kansas City Chiefs at Soldier Field on Sunday.
For the most part, that's exactly what we saw despite the fact that the Chiefs scored a touchdown on their first drive and took a 14-0 lead at halftime.
"There were a lot of good, foundational pieces out there," said head coach Matt Eberflus, whose squad came back to post a 19-14 victory thanks to a second-half surge led by QB Trevor Siemian (2 TD passes) and LB Jack Sanborn (interception, fumble recovery). "The taking the ball away and taking care of the football -- and then being smart in (different) situations -- I thought was good.
"Lot to learn from. ... But the energy and intensity was right."
The Bears' offense played without RB David Montgomery and TE Cole Kmet, while the defense was without its two best players in LB Roquan Smith and DE Robert Quinn.
Quarterback Justin Fields played the first three drives (18 plays) and went 4-for-7 for 48 yards. He also scrambled once for 10 yards and was sacked twice.
Fields made two impressive throws -- a gorgeous floater to Darnell Mooney that picked up 26 yards on third-and-4; and a perfectly placed sideline dart to Tajae Sharpe that netted 19 yards on third-and-9.
"I have a different mindset coming in this year," Fields said. "I'm way more comfortable ... having (already) played a year."
Fields admitted, though, that there's a long way to go before the offense is where it wants to be.
The O-line did a decent job pass blocking, but failed to open significant holes for RB Khalil Herbert (7 carries, 20 yards). Left guard Michael Schofield had a rough day, allowing a sack on the game's third play and also missing a block on a third-and-6 rushing attempt in which Herbert was stuffed for no gain.
"Overall we just did all right out there," Fields said. "I mean we can get better at a lot of things -- pretty much everything. There's always room to improve. We're not perfect at anything."
Grading the Bears' defense is next to impossible since Smith and Quinn sat out, AND Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes only played one series. Mahomes (6-for-7, 60 yards) looked completely at ease directing an 11-play, 72-yard drive that gave the Chiefs a 7-0 lead.
Still, there were some positives for the Bears in the first half as:
• D-linemen Trevis Gipson, Justin Jones, Khyiris Tonga and Al-Quadin Muhammad consistently stuffed the Chiefs' inside running game.
• Muhammad came through on a stunt that brought big pressure on QB Chad Henne.
• Rookie safety Jaquan Brisker broke hard on a third-and-7 pass attempt and swatted the ball away.
The defensive star of the second half was Sanborn, who went to Lake Zurich High School and played at Wisconsin.
On the Chiefs' third play of the second half, Sanborn snared a pass intended for TE Jordan Franks and returned it 13 yards to the Chiefs' 27. The undrafted rookie also recovered a fumble with 5:53 remaining in the third quarter, made a nice tackle on a punt return, and stuffed Franks after a short completion late in the game.
"He needs to get a game ball for sure," Fields said.
While there's still a long way to go for this team, Eberflus was basically thrilled with how his coaching staff handled the game-day operations. He was also happy that the Bears committed no stupid penalties.
And for this franchise, both of those feats count as a win.
"This is (only) a preseason game," Eberflus said. "The guys did a nice job. It was our first time out and we have a lot to improve on. But we like where they are."