The Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears kicked off their preseason today with a week one contest. The game featured starters for both teams making brief cameos, before giving way to the depth players with coaches looking to learn more about their roster bubble players.
The Dolphins starters played fairly well early in the game, even without players like wide receivers DeVante Parker, Will Fuller, Albert Wilson, Preston Williams, and Allen Hurns. The defense held the Bears to no first downs until the final minute of the first half.
That said, there were still areas that need to be addressed. The running game was non-existent for the starters. The pass rush, while vanilla without the full blitz package the team will use in the regular season, also needs to ramp up.
You can check out all of my thoughts and a recap of the game below.
Dolphins 13 - Bears 20
Dolphins started the game with a three and out. Adam Shaheen dopped a pass from Tua Tagovailoa on second down that stalled the drive. On third down, Tagovailoa looked like he was stuck somewhere between a pump fake and pulling down a pass when the receiver did not run the expected route; with the pressure in his face, Tagovailoa threw away the pass.
On Chicago’s first possession, the Dolphins defense forced a three-and-out for the Bears as well. Great coverage from Nik Needham to ensure Miami got back the ball. Jaylen Waddle was back to return the punt, picking up 26 yards on the return, cutting back against the grain.
Miami’s second drive was highlighted by a 50-yard catch and run on a pass from Tagovailoa to tight end Mike Gesicki. Chicago stuffed the Dolphins from inside the five, however, and the Dolphins settled for the 20-yard field goal from Jason Sanders. Dolphins 3-0.
The Dolphins force another three-and-out from Chicago, with safety Eric Rowe deciding he was not going to allow anything from the Bears.
Tagovailoa continued to move the offense through the air on the next possession, but the ground game has not gotten started. The drive ended with an interception however as Tagovailoa tried to force a pass into the endzone to tight end Adam Shaheen but did not appear to see the double team.
Chicago was again held to a three-and-out, despite changing from Andy Dalton to rookie quarterback Justin Fields. Two false start penalties aided Miami’s defense in continuing to prevent a first down in the game.
Miami settled for a field goal from 35-yard out on their next possession, the first with Jacoby Brissett in at quarterback. Running back Salvon Ahmed looked good on the drive. Dolphins 6-0.
After another three-and-out from the Bears, Miami matched with a three-and-out of their own. The Bears’ next possession featured a bad snap, an incomplete pass that was nearly picked off, and a fumble from Fields as he tried to scramble but the ball went out of bounds. It was not a great possession for the Bears.
Miami got the ball back with 1:53 remaining in the first half and immediately began attacking in the two-minute drill. Brissett worked the ball to Lynn Bowden, Isaiah Ford, and Salvon Ahmed, including a 23-yard floater down the sideline to Ahmed for the touchdown. Dolphins 13-0.
The Bears finally recorded a first down as they worked their own version of the two-minute drill. Moving the ball 42 yards through the air over six plays, Fields positioned the Bears for a 53-yard field goal as the half ended. Dolphins 13-3.
Coming out after the break, the Bears found some rhythm. Fields used his arm and his legs on the drive, including on an eight-yard scramble for the touchdown. Dolphins 13-10.
Miami was unable to answer on their first possession. After a couple of strong runs from Ahmed, the drive stalled and the Dolphins were forced to punt.
Chicago started the next drive with an incomplete pass, a five-yard run, and a four-yard pass. The Bears decided to go for it on fourth down, converting on 4th-and-1 with a nine-yard run. Fields went back to the ground on a 21-yard run. Two plays later, a play fake fooled the Dolphins defense and Jesse James was left wide open to walk backward into the endzone for a 30-yard touchdown pass from Fields. Bears 17-13.
Miami turned to Reid Sinnett at quarterback on the next drive. However, the offense would fail to gain a first down, leading to another three-and-out.
The Dolphins forced a three-and-out from the Bears, with Griffin continuing his strong play and Jamal Perry crushing running back Artavis Pierce on the third-down play to force the punt.
Miami’s drive lasted only one play, however, as Sinnett connected with tight end Chris Myarick across the middle. Myarick coughed up the ball as he was being tackled and the Bears recovered.
Nick Foles replaced Fields at quarterback for the Bears, but was unable to do anything, leading to a three-and-out.
Miami’s drive started with a 22-yard catch and run from rookie running back Gerrid Doaks, but a review showed Doaks’ knee touched the ground, changing the play to a three-year loss. Doaks lost two yards on the next play before Sinnett scrambled for 17 yards to give Miami a first down. After a 12-yard pass to receiver Malcolm Perry, the drive stalled and Miami was forced to punt.
Chicago’s drive started with a three-yard loss on a run from Pierce, but he then broke for 51 yards on the next play. The possession ended shortly thereafter, however, with the Bears settling for a 44-yard field goal. Bears 20-13.
Miami tried to change the game tempo with some no-huddle plays on the drive, finding some initial success. The offense picked up 18 yards on their first three plays, including a third-down conversion. Sinnett then three three-straight incomplete passes, including on a fourth-down attempt, for Miami to turn the ball over on downs.
Chicago looked content to run the clock, starting with two short runs while the Dolphins used timeouts. Ryan Nall then broke out a 39-yard run to set up first-and-goal for the Bears. After a delay of game penalty, the Bears knelt to kill the clock.
Waddle looks so comfortable with the ball in his hands on punt returns. Could the Dolphins look to him to be the primary punt returner with Jakeem Grant holding on to the kick return duties?
Gesicki is going to be special this year. Just looking at him, you see the prototypical seam threat tight end.
Happy to see Damien Williams with the Bears. Did not realize he signed with them. But, eight is a funny-looking number on a running back.
Tagovailoa looked sharp, able to get out of trouble and make good decisions. He fits balls into tight windows and he seems to be developing a great connection with Gesicki.
The running game still needs help.
Cornerback Noah Igbinoghene has looked good, especially given how much he has disappeared in camp this year. His pass break-up on a deep crossing route in the second quarter was pretty.
What an amazing play by Shaquem Griffin on the forced fumble. Stunts, creates the pressure that causes Fields to scramble, then uses his ridiculous speed to go chase down Fields and force the fumble.
Fields is going to develop into a special quarterback. His running ability is ridiculous.
Overall, the Dolphins looked solid, with some areas still to address. Tua was sharp for the most part, but also needs to not force throws. The running game has to get started. The first-team defense was strong, even without Xavien Howard and Byron Jones.