CHICAGO – There are few things in the NFL that are more misleading than first preseason games.
That said, in their opener against the Denver Broncos on Thursday night, the Chicago Bears' first-team offense was truly awful, and the defensive starters were at best lacking focus.
On his second pass as a Bear on third-and-8 of the opening possession of the game, Mike Glennon forced the ball into triple coverage, resulting in a 50-yard pick six by Broncos Pro Bowl cornerback Chris Harris.
So much for fresh starts.
Things never got better for Glennon, who finished his Bears debut 2 for 8 passing for 20 yards, a 2.5-yard average, no touchdowns, one interception, a 0.0 passer rating and limping ever so slightly after going down in a heap on his last pass attempt.
It wasn’t much better for Mark Sanchez, who was 1 for 4 passing and only 4 yards gained on 10 plays before Mitch Trubisky was brought in with 1:55 left in the first half for some 2-minute-drill experience.
Of course, as these dramas are always scripted, things went much better for the rookie, but more on that in a moment.
The defensive starters opened with a bang, as sophomore linebacker Leonard Floyd electrified the crowd with a speed rush of his own, flying around Broncos free-agent right tackle Menelik Watson from the left end spot and flattening Trevor Siemian for a 7-yard loss.
Sadly, that was it for the good guys, as the Broncos took off from there on a 10-play, 60-yard drive that featured a pass interference call on Bryce Callahan offset by a Bronco penalty, offsides on Willie Young, an unnecessary roughness call on Young and roughing the passer by Sam Acho.
The Bears' starters resembled a team that, after expressing confidence throughout camp over how improved they were, had forgotten how bad they had been and tried to substitute brashness for good football.
The first seven minutes were embarrassing.
But again, these things happen in first exhibitions, and too much should not be made of it ... yet. How they open in Arizona in nine days will now matter a lot more.
What does count in these scrimmages are players who flash and make plays that argue they should climb the depth chart.
Of note again was rookie running back Tarik Cohen. With starter Jordan Howard getting only one series and Jeremy Langford yet to see the field this preseason, it is clear Cohen hasn’t just made the team, he will dress on Sundays, and some portion of the Bears' offense will go through him.
Ka'Deem Carey also played well at running back and on special teams before he went out with a quad injury.
On defense, Jonathan Bullard appeared to have come a long way during the offseason, and there is no question that Nick Kwiatkoski is a stud against the run.
As for Trubisky, the kid played extremely well, immediately setting off social media chatter over letting him compete for the starting job.
The Bears won’t, and shouldn’t yet, but his early progress is encouraging.
He was a perfect 4 for 4 on that first-half 2-minute drill that culminated in his first NFL TD pass, to Victor Cruz, of course, for the Bears' first score of the night.
Trubisky is an excellent athlete who showed exciting arm talent, completing 12 of his first 13 throws on the night,and he definitely brought a buzz to Soldier Field.
But it was also clear at times he had no idea what he was doing and was reacting rather than quarterbacking, and Bears fans will just have to find a way to remember that patience is most often a virtue.
In the end, both clubs probably set pro football back a decade or two with their sloppiness, and most importantly, the Bears appeared to avoid serious injury to any of their key contributors.
Of major concern now is how Glennon and the first-team offense respond this week in practice and next week in Arizona.
• Hub Arkush is executive editor of Pro Football Weekly. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.