For all practical purposes, anything that really mattered to the Bears in their exhibition game with the Denver Broncos on Saturday night was wrapped up with 6:19 left in the first half, when Mitch Trubisky threw an interception to Denver safety Justin Simmons on his final play of the evening, and Adam Shaheen and Leonard Floyd already were through for the night.
Yes, there was still 35:41 left to play, and I don’t mean to make light of the fortunes of the bottom 40 to 45 guys on the Bears’ current 90-man roster spot who are fighting for only three to eight roster spots that are truly in play as the Bears prepare for the 2018 season.
But the reality is their fates, if they haven’t already been decided, will be determined over the next 12 days in the final two practice games, not so much off what happened in Denver
Too much should not be made of Trubisky’s interception, as very little should be made of any of these meaningless exhibitions, but too much cannot be made of the injuries that sent tight end Shaheen off the field on a cart and the hand injury that sidelined outside linebacker Floyd for the night.
Because Shaheen did not leave the field under his own power, we have to assume the injury is going to hurt him for some portion of the regular season.
The Bears can overcome the loss of Shaheen, but if Floyd is to miss any significant time again, after playing just 12 games as a rookie and 10 last season, that injury is huge.
The biggest single question facing the Bears’ defense right now is where the pass rush is going to come from.
Other than Trubisky, Floyd is arguably the player the Bears can least afford to lose.
As for Trubisky’s performance, the evening was a mixed bag. Prior to the pick, he made some nice throws and good decisions, while also missing on a couple of throws and appearing to guess wrong on a few of the RPOs (run-pass options) he was given.
Trubisky also was completely responsible for a muffed snap on the Bears’ second possession, resulting in a safety.
Center Cody Whitehair has struggled since Cincinnati with the shotgun snap, but this one was near-perfect, and Trubisky just missed it.
Objectively, you’d have to say Trubisky showed some signs of progress but is clearly not ready yet for opening night in Green Bay.
On the interception, Tarik Cohen ran a poor route. But the play was right in front of Trubisky, Cohen was covered all the way and it was a sidearm sling Trubisky shouldn’t have made.
It’s still early and the second year passer still has a ways to go.
The good news for the Bears’ offense is Jordan Howard and Trey Burton are absolutely ready for opening night.
Howard was impressive enough that if it were up to me, he wouldn’t play again until the opener in Lambeau, and Burton exploded for four catches on five targets for 45 yards and a touchdown.
Burton had been surprisingly quiet in training camp until the Wednesday and Thursday practices with the Broncos before Saturday night, and it’s clear now if he can stay healthy he can be a special weapon for Trubisky.
On defense, it was great just to see Danny Trevathan back on the field, and while Roquan Smith was on the sideline in street clothes – exactly where I believe he belonged after just two full-speed practices – Nick Kwiatkoski again played well and the Bears are now deep in the middle.
One play that stood out particularly was a sack of Case Keenum by Roy Robertson-Harris, while he was clearly being held by Ronald Leary.
Beyond player evaluations, a side note to the Bears play was another horribly officiated game that included a ridiculous lowering-the-helmet call on Kyle Fuller.
In the end, though, all that really mattered was the health of Floyd and Shaheen, and how much time each ends up missing will ultimately dictate what the Bears did or didn’t accomplish in Denver.
• Hub Arkush is executive editor of Pro Football Weekly, Write to him at email@example.com, and follow him on Twitter @Hub_Arkush.