Chicago Bears: What We've Learned Through Week 2 of Preseason
The Bears are undefeated through the first half of the preseason. They will face their toughest test on the road against the defending world champs in what is considered a full dress rehearsal.
It's still too early to blow things out of proportion when it comes to the defense, but it's not too early to realize there was a hole at receiver after Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.
Here are key things we have learned so far as we move forward to a big week for the Bears.
Running Back Shaun Draughn Is a Pleasant Surprise
Many people figured rookie Ka'Deem Carey would step right in and be the backup running back, but veteran Shaun Draughn has done everything right to win the job.
Draughn has been a pleasant surprise this preseason. He's run hard in the first two games and has proven to be a solid receiver and reliable blocker.
Draughn looks like a player on a mission to stick with the team. He fits well in this offense and currently sits in the driver's seat to win the backup role.
Special Teams Has Been a Nightmare
The only sure thing the Bears have on special teams right now is kicker Robbie Gould. Every other facet has ranged from mediocre to downright bad, and special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis is under the microscope.
Nobody has emerged in the competition to be the team's return man. Eric Weems looked sluggish with the football, Chris Williams can't get on the field due to a hamstring injury and running back Michael Ford just doesn't have the necessary burst needed.
Pat O'Donnell finally looks to be separating himself from Tress Way in the race to see who will handle punting duties. It's been tough to get a good gauge on the punters due to all the penalties during their kicks.
There have been too many errors overall from DeCamillis' unit. The penalties, lack of protection with the football and lane management have all stuck out throughout the preseason. He needs to focus on the mental mistakes and get them cleaned up sooner than later.
Nobody Stepped Up to Replace Marquess Wilson
The Bears might not say it publicly, but they signed Santonio Holmes because nobody has stepped up in the absence of injured receiver Marquess Wilson.
To make room for Holmes, the Bears released Eric Weems. He was looked upon as a reliable veteran who can play special teams and play the slot with Wilson down, but he faltered in every area.
Josh Morgan and Michael Spurlock have five receptions apiece through two games, but neither has wowed in their time on the field. Chris Williams had a solid start before getting injured, and Armanti Edwards hasn't been much of a factor.
Holmes comes with a successful and interesting past. He was very good during his tenure in Pittsburgh but had his ups and downs as a Jet.
Knowing he's running out of time in his career, Holmes should come in focused on taking control of the third receiver position. He doesn't have much competition and certainly has the pedigree to do so.
It's Still Too Early to Judge the Defense
It was tough to watch the Jacksonville Jaguars carve up the defense in the first half of the second preseason game. Flashbacks to last year had to run through Bears fans' minds, but don't panic yet.
This defense has had very little time to play and jell together. Jared Allen saw his first action in that game against Jacksonville, and the safeties have been rotated more than an old Chevy's tires.
It would be wise for defensive coordinator Mel Tucker to figure out as soon as possible who his 11 starters are. They need time to learn each other and start working as a cohesive unit.
Shea McClellin needs more time on the field, as he's still learning the position, and Jon Bostic might be in the running to overtake veteran D.J. Williams. The sooner these areas are settled on, the better. It will allow everybody to settle in and work on cleaning up the subtle mistakes.
Remember the offensive line last year? Roberto Garza was the only returning starter, and it showed the first few weeks into the season. In the second half of the year, the line was firing on all cylinders and playing good football.
Safety Chris Conte might have a one-game audition to prove he can still be the starter. This starting defense needs to be figured out by the end of the next game against Seattle because Week 1 against Buffalo is quickly approaching.
Jay Cutler Is on Fire
We have seen stretches like this from Jay Cutler when it seems like he can do no wrong. What we have never seen is Cutler get so locked like this at the start of the year.
Usually, it takes Cutler a few games to get going. Fans have had those nervous Jay Cutler feelings even in the preseason as he makes one errant throw after another, but not this year.
It's clear Cutler is comfortable and locked in to this offense. He has full confidence in his offensive line and receivers, and it's allowing him to make all the right reads on the field.
This is a great sign for the Bears. There aren't too many guys in the league with more talent than Cutler, and when he finally puts it all together, he becomes very dangerous. We could be seeing the evolution from the Cutler hot streaks to the norm game in and game out.