PFF’s ReFocused series features immediate takeaways from the two analysts who graded the game live. The two offer a detailed breakdown of the game’s most notable performances before the grades and advanced stats are reviewed and finalized by Senior Analysts.
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One of the more impressive outings from the Panthers’ offense came from rookie second-round pick Greg Little. While he did not have a clean sheet in pass protection, he was nearly perfect against the Bears’ backup edge units. While not something to be ecstatic about, it’s definitely the type of performance you would like to see out of your highly drafted tackle.
First-round pick Brian Burns looked good as a pass-rusher during his NFL debut. Burns tallied two sacks and had a few plays where he beat the guy blocking him, but the ball just got out before he could get there to land a pressure.
The Bears got an impressive performance out of their 2016 fourth-round pick Deon Bush. He came up with one of the better plays for the Bears’ defensive unit, picking off Panthers rookie Will Grier in zone coverage.
He wasn’t on the field a ton, but rookie running back David Montgomery stole the show when the ball was in his hands. Montgomery was one of the most elusive college backs we’ve seen in the last handful of seasons, and that was wholly on display in his first taste of NFL action. Montgomery froze a defender in the open field with a juke move that allowed him to pick up a first down on a screen pass, he looked great weaving his way in between the tackles and he showed some good burst darting around the edge on a touchdown run.
It wasn’t the greatest start for rookie third-round pick Will Grier for the Panthers. Grier didn’t connect on any deep passes and was responsible for a bad interception thrown into multiple defenders. The Panthers will look for improvement out of Grier if he is to be a viable backup for Cam Newton in the case of an injury
Linebacker Jared Norris really struggled against the Bears, especially in coverage. Every ball targeted into his coverage was caught, he missed a couple of tackles and he surrendered a handful of first downs, including one in the fourth quarter on a third-down pass where he overcommitted to the outside, giving up an easy pitch and catch on a slant route.
One of the weaker performances from the Bears starting unit in their first preseason game came from second-year linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski. His athleticism was exposed early on in pass defense, as he overran a screen pass and got beat on a crossing pattern for a first down. With the game played so much in the open field, it is hard to put off-the-ball linebackers on the field that cannot run with their opponents.
It wasn’t a great night for Tyler Bray, who connected on fewer than 50% of his passes on the night. Bray was aggressive with his decision-making and pushed the ball downfield, but he wasn’t accurate. He overthrew a crossing route on the right side of the field that was nearly intercepted, and he had a man wide open deep late in the game but underthrew the ball. He also missed an open receiver for a touchdown with a ball that sailed out of bounds behind his target.
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