What We Saw: Preseason Week 2

Bears @ Seahawks

Final Score: Bears 21, Seahawks 11

Writer: Mike Miklius ( @SIRL0INofBEEF on Twitter)

 

Welcome to week 2 of the preseason. The second week began with Monday Night Football–on Thursday night, of course–and the Chicago Bears visiting the Seattle Seahawks. The Bears first-string offense played one series and looked better than last week. Justin Fields led the team on a field goal drive before he and most of Chicago’s other skill-position starters were pulled. It makes sense given it was a short week and they had to travel across the country. Meanwhile, Seattle took an extended look at Geno Smith before subbing in Jacob Eason. Chicago dominated the contest, though a late Seahawks comeback made things a little closer. The important inactives from this game were Drew Lock, who was out with Covid, and the starting running backs (David Montgomery, Rashaad Penny, and Kenneth Walker). DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett were not expected to play, but both saw a few snaps. Here’s everything I saw in this week 2 contest.

 

Chicago Bears

| Preseason Week 1 |

 

Quarterback

 

Justin Fields: 5/7, 39 yards | 1 carry, 1 yard

Trevor Siemian: 8/15, 48 yards, TD, Sack

Nathan Peterman: 8/14, 85 yards, Sack, 2 Fumbles | 2 carries, 0 yards

 

Justin Fields played one series tonight, completing five passes and making some good plays. It started with a screen to Cole Kmet – an easy pass to build confidence that went for 12 yards. I love this play call early to help relieve some pressure on the young QB. Fields saw immediate pressure on the next snap and made a good choice to throw the ball away. After the Seattle defense jumped on a fourth-and-short, Fields made another good pass when he rolled out and hit Khalil Herbert for a 4-yard gain. The Bears followed that up by running a play-action rollout where Fields hit Kmet in stride for a 19-yard gain. This is the type of play missing last year and something that could help hide a bad offensive line. This was my favorite play from the game and highlighted what Fields – married to effective play calling – can be in 2022. The worst moments of the day for me were Fields’ last two attempts. On second down, Fields rolled out and had to wait for someone to get open. Darnell Mooney found space in the back corner of the endzone, and Fields just barely missed him. It was a tight window, but a makeable throw. On the following play, Fields looked like he was expecting pressure and dumped the ball to Khalil Herbert, who had a defender bearing down on him. I saw better throws available over the middle on re-watch. I still like what I’m seeing overall, but the road isn’t going to be bump-free. This is a work in progress.

 

Running Back

 

Khalil Herbert: 1 carry, 7 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 2 yards

Trestan Ebner: 9 carries, 29 yards

Darrynton Evans: 8 carries, 39 yards, TD | 3 targets, 2 receptions, 7 yards

De’Montre Tuggle: 12 carries, 41 yards

 

Khalil Herbert had a short night, leaving the game with Justin Fields and Darnell Mooney after the first drive. He looked good on his one carry, making a strong first move and pushing the pile forward for seven yards. All signs point to Herbert as the backup to Montgomery, probably having a minimal role unless Montgomery were to get injured or be traded. Herbert looked much better today as a pass-catcher, pulling in both balls thrown his way. The first was slightly behind him, but he adjusted and made the grab. The second was a short pass with a defender barreling down on him. Herbert hung in and held on despite the coming impact.

Trestan Ebner came in on the second drive and was immediately handed the ball four consecutive times to start his day. He looked good again despite the low yards-per-carry. Remember, not all carries are created equal, and YPC is not an effective measure of running backs – especially with such small workloads. Ebner’s best plays were his third and fourth carries. He followed good blocking on a third-and-six, as well as evading two blockers, to pick up seven yards and a first down. On the next play, Ebner was nearly taken down for a loss thanks to immediate contact in the backfield. He kept his feet and turned it into a two-yard gain. I was disappointed not to see Ebner get any targets today, but I expect the Bears were more interested to test his running. After all, pass-catching was his specialty in college. Ebner apparently suffered a minor ankle injury during the game and was listed as doubtful to return. Keep an eye on this if you have Ebner on your radar.

Darrynton Evans came in to relieve Ebner, and they split the workload for a bit. He made a great run up the middle on the team’s third drive, blasting through a hole and staying on his feet despite a defender grabbing him. Evans followed it up with a six-yard run on the next play, again looking powerful. He was lined up out wide in the red zone and saw four targets on the day – one of which was called back. Evans also made a great play in pass protection, chipping a defender and preventing him from deflecting a Trevor Siemian touchdown pass. I feel confident calling Montgomery, Herbert, Ebner, and Evans roster locks. I expect plenty of calls for Evans to be the RB3, or possibly even RB2 on the depth chart, and I still think Ebner or Evans could carve out a role as the third down back. Ebner looks like the better pass-catcher, but Evans has been better in pass protection.

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Darnell Mooney: 2 targets, 1 reception, 6 yards

Cole Kmet: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 31 yards

Nsimba Webster: 7 targets, 4 receptions, 25 yards

Kevin Shaa: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 22 yards

James O’Shaughnessy: 1 target, 1 reception, 16 yards

Dazz Newsome: 2 targets, 1 reception, 14 yards, Fumble (Lost)

Chase Allen: 1 target, 1 reception, 4 yards

Velus Jones Jr.: 2 targets, 1 reception, 4 yards, Fumble

Jake Tonges: 1 target, 1 reception, 2 yards

 

Darnell Mooney only saw one series and one catch today – a short screen pass. Still, he showed me a lot. On the screen, Mooney hauled in the ball before making moves to keep the next two defenders off balance. He only managed a two-yard gain as more Seahawks swarmed the play, but he looked good doing it. Mooney nearly pulled in a long touchdown on a scramble play towards the end of the drive. He ran to the corner of the endzone as Fields bought time, and he had positioning over the nearest defender. The pass just went off his outstretched fingertips. This could have been the Bears’ highlight of the preseason. Mooney is the team’s top target and someone who should see a huge target share in 2022.

Cole Kmet saw three targets, two of which he pulled in for big gains. The first was a screen pass that Kmet ran for 12 yards and the Bears’ first chain-moving play of the day. Kmet threw an initial block before allowing the pass rusher to get past and turning around for the quick pass. He blasted through the first tackler and stayed on his feet through the second contact. Kmet moves fast for his size, and he is a force in space. His second catch looked like a blown coverage. Kmet ran through a cloud of defenders before finding space and the ball. He ran forward another five yards to pick up 19 on the play, yelling excitedly after the catch. I expect Kmet to be the team’s secondary option and someone in line for significant volume. He is my favorite tight-end sleeper this season, and I love the passion he is already showing. If Fields, Mooney, and Kmet can keep growing together, this offense could become the next big thing.

Velus Jones Jr. had a rough start, taking the opening kickoff but fumbling it thanks to an excellent play made by Marquise Blair to pop the ball loose. Jones quickly made up for the mistake, recovering the ball and later returning his first punt 48 yards – nearly taking it to the house. He looked like he had a lane if not for a blocker ironically blocking his path to the endzone. Jones only saw two targets, both of which came after Justin Fields left the game. I’m guessing anything creative involving Jones is being kept tightly under wraps, so it’s hard to say what he can or can’t do in terms of helping the offense as a Deebo Samuel-type weapon. You know the NFL: Every new big thing inspires half a dozen teams trying to create their own version. The biggest news here is that Jones was the WR3 on the day and could be in line for more work than we might have thought. I’m eager to see what his workload looks like in the last preseason game.

I didn’t see Tajae Sharpe in the game and expect he might have been getting a rest day. Given how he showed out last week, I would be extremely surprised if he wasn’t still in the mix here while guys like Nsimba Webster and Isaiah Coulter both were.

It’s worth noting that Darnell Mooney, Equanimeous St. Brown, and Velus Jones Jr. started today in three-wide sets while Mooney and St. Brown started in two-wide sets. I expect Mooney and ESB to be the starters while the team should be expected to rely mostly on 11 and 12 personnel sets. Despite the lack of targets for ESB, he looks locked in as the two, and I wouldn’t worry about his future prospects.

 

 

Seattle Seahawks

Preseason Week 1 |

 

Quarterback

 

Geno Smith: 10/18, 112 yards, 2 Sacks

Jacob Eason: 17/35, 141 yards, Sack, Fumble | 2 carries, 1 yard

 

Drew Lock was out today due to Covid, so we saw a lot of Geno Smith. How did it go? Well, the first Seahawks’ drive was preceded by a fan’s sign reading “We need Jimmy G freaky fast”. Smith nearly hit Freddie Swain on a long pass on Seattle’s first possession, but it went off the receiver’s fingertips and forced a punt. The next drive saw Smith scramble before throwing the ball away and then having a pass batted at the line. Smith started to find some traction on the team’s third drive before penalties – a theme for Seattle – stalled things out. Smith threw a quick strike on third down to make it fourth and short, and another nice pass on fourth down to move the chains. The play was called back and Seattle instead punted. My biggest takeaway for Smith, and likely Lock, is that Seattle is not afraid to take shots deep. On the team’s fourth drive, Smith threw a beautiful 41-yard pass to Penny Hart. On the next play, Smith took another great shot that was dropped by Dareke Young. Third down was another pass down the sideline – a solid throw from Smith while on the run – that was just missed. I don’t want to roster Seattle’s quarterbacks, but I expect them to still take shots. This should ease some fears about drafting DK Metcalf.

 

Running Back

 

Travis Homer: 5 carries, 44 yards| 1 target, 1 reception, 4 yards

Darwin Thompson: 6 carries, 34 yards, TD | 1 target, 1 reception, 7 yards

DeeJay Dallas: 5 carries, 15 yards | 5 targets, 4 receptions, 52 yards

 

With no Rashaad Penny (nursing an injury) or Kenneth Walker (hernia and a procedure for “something else”) to be seen, Travis Homer was the story. My overreaction for week 2 is that everyone should be rushing out to roster Travis Homer immediately. Homer started the contest and looked effective with his five carries. On the Seahawks’ first drive of the second quarter, Homer broke a huge run on first down. He ran left before seeing that nothing was opening up. He cut back to the right, avoiding and running through three tacklers as he cut outside for 33 yards on the play. Homer is a smart back and one who could have a huge workload if Penny (frequently injured) and Walker (currently injured) miss time this season. I think it’s fair to ask if Homer is the team’s RB2 right now even if Walker is healthy. Check for Homer in your leagues right now. He is an excellent choice if you prefer zero-RB.

DeeJay Dallas was next in the game, but he didn’t show much as a runner. Most of his runs were short, save for a seven-yard gain. Dallas’s biggest contribution today was as a pass catcher. I’m sure you all noticed the four receptions for 52 yards. Dallas’s first catch came with five minutes left in the half. Dallas ran out of the backfield and caught a quick pass from Geno Smith. Nobody bothered to cover Dallas on the play, and he easily ran free for 29 yards. Dallas looked smooth catching the ball and Smith threw him a perfect pass. Dallas’s other three receptions all came in the last 20 seconds of the first half. I don’t expect Dallas to be a major threat as a pass catcher, but he did look good in the role. He played into the third quarter, so I don’t imagine the team has immediate plans to use him in any significant role either. We’ll keep an eye on this heading into week 3.

Darwin Thompson was always a favorite sleeper of mine, and he looked good against Chicago’s backups. With 2:23 left in the third quarter, Thompson took the ball and ran to the left. He made a huge leap over the first defender and continued forward for 16 yards – helping to set up a Seattle field goal, and their first score of the game. Thompson is a deep sleeper and merely a roster hopeful at this point.

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Penny Hart: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 46 yards

Kevin Kassis: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 37 yards

Aaron Fuller: 10 targets, 3 receptions, 34 yards

Colby Parkinson: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 27 yards

Bo Melton: 11 targets, 4 receptions, 18 yards

Cade Johnson: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 16 yards | 1 carry, 2 yards

Cade Brewer: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 9 yards

Freddie Swain: 3 targets, 1 reception, 6 yards

Tyler Mabry: 1 target

JJ Arcega-Whiteside: 2 targets

Dareke Young: 1 target

Noah Fant: 1 target, 1 reception, -3 yards

 

With DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett only playing three snaps – and neither seeing a target – there won’t be many takeaways from this group. Metcalf and Lockett are miles ahead of every other receiver on the team, and it remains to be seen if this passing attack can support even two weapons. Still, let’s talk about what we saw today.

Freddie Swain was in the game on Seattle’s first drive, and he saw the first WR target from Geno Smith. The ball tipped off his hands on what would have been a big gain. He made one catch but didn’t show much on the day. Still, he was in right away which is worth paying attention to.

Penny Hart was next in the game. Hart was probably Seattle’s most impressive receiver today and he made their biggest play of the day: a 41-yard catch with just over nine minutes left in the first half. Hart made a couple of quick moves at the line to try and shake his defender before just sprinting past him on the inside. Hart had to slow down just slightly for the ball and made a nice catch. He was quickly forced out by a safety with good positioning on him. If you are in a deep league, this could be a name to keep an eye on. Still, he has no short-term value.

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