CHICAGO – Even though he wouldn’t admit it when asked about returning to Chicago, you knew there had to be some extra juice for Mitch Trubisky playing against his old team, even if it is just the preseason.
And he lit it up.
For the second straight week, Josh Allen got the night off so Trubisky started in the Bills second preseason game again, this time against the Bears, the team that drafted him second overall in 2017.
Trubisky played the entire first half and completed 20 of 28 passes for 221 yards and a touchdown. Of the seven series Trubisky played, six of those were scoring drives including four in a row that ended in touchdowns to start the game.
“It was different coming back here to Chicago obviously because I spent a lot of time here the last four years. It was awesome to see all the guys and coaches before the game, catching up with those guys and then how supportive everybody in the Bills locker room was for me,” Trubisky said after the game.
“I’m just really grateful to be a part of this team. It was a lot of fun today. It felt good to come back and perform well.”
The Bills beat the Bears 41-15 and fans can rest easy knowing that if Allen gets hurt or at any point they need to rely on Trubisky, he is more than capable of keeping things afloat.
What was also impressive about Trubisky’s performance is he was doing it without guys like Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders. One of Trubisky’s favorite targets was Isaiah McKenzie who also proved he can make an impact not just on special teams but in the passing game. He ended with seven catches for 72 yards.
“It’s huge, we know what Isaiah can do, he makes those types of plays in practice. Super shifty guy, great run after the catch and he made huge plays for us today. Just creating separation, getting open and making plays, he definitely made our offense go today,” Trubisky said.
Here are some other observations:
McKenzie had a hiccup on special teams as he muffed a punt but was able to recovery it. But the next chance he got he returned a punt for 35 yards that set up Reggie Gilliam’s one-yard touchdown.
Rookie wide receiver Marquez Stevenson showed he’s not going away in the conversation of not only keeping seven wide receivers but also the competition in the return game. Stevenson took a punt 79-yards for a touchdown in the third quarter but left the game with a foot injury. The good news is his X-Rays were negative.
Unlike last week against the Lions were the emphasis was on running the ball early, this time around they didn’t run as much, rather let Trubisky sling it. But when they did run the backs made the most of their opportunities. I’ve been really impressed with Devin Singletary this preseason. On 4th and 1, he took a pitch and broke a tackle, showed off patience and it paid off as he ran it 14 yards to the end zone for an opening score.
Defensively the Bills continue to show the benefits of what they did with the pass rush as the young defensive ends shined once again.
One of the highlights of the game was A.J. Epenesa blowing past Bears’ left tackle Elijah Wilkinson on the way to Andy Dalton who just got the ball out. Even though he didn’t get the sack, it was an impressive, explosive play by the second-year defensive end looking to make a bigger impact this year.
“We just put a huge emphasis on pass rush this week because last week we did good but we wanted to do better,” Epenesa said.
Rookies Greg Rousseau and Boogie Basham also had sacks with Basham leading the team in tackles with five.
“That’s a big thing for us young guys just to get more reps under our belt, Boogie and Greg’s first games especially, get them their first NFL reps before the actual season so that’s a big thing for us as a defensive line. Just to get that consistency, to get those repetitions and to get some wins and know what it feels like so that we can keep getting that,” Epenesa explained.
Rookie safety Damar Hamlin also flashed by recovering a fumble and ended with four tackles, a QB hit and a tackle for loss.