By Chris Emma–
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (CBS) — Down. Set. Hike.
OK, Andrew Luck’s presnap cadences aren’t quite so simple. To an observer of the Colts’ practices, it sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher rambling. But when Luck gets that ball in his hands, everything seems easy.
In the pocket, Luck seems to be at such ease. He bounces with elegance, looks off defenders and finds targets with no problem. Coby Fleener over the middle? Sure thing. T.Y. Hilton in the corner of the end zone? Done deal. A checkdown to Frank Gore? Why not.
“He’s a hell of a quarterback,” Bears safety Antrel Rolle said after Thursday’s joint practice in Indianapolis.
As for Luck’s competition on the field? Well, the Bears are a different story.
Chicago’s team-in-transition got a tough test from the Indianapolis Colts, a group considered a contender to win the AFC. Nearly 200 miles southeast of Soldier Field, the Colts boast continuity from a playoff team and one of the game’s great players.
The Bears are at ground zero of a rebuild, with many miscasts from Phil Emery’s regime attempting to adapt into John Fox’s new schemes. Essentially, the Bears are putting pieces together on a large puzzle.
“We got to fix a lot of things,” quarterback Jay Cutler said on Wednesday, a day which he deemed was won by the Colts.
Thursday wasn’t much different.
To summarize the practice in a snapshot, Cutler was picked off on fourth down during a two-minute drill. Luck led a methodical six-play, 80-yard touchdown drive, capped off by a perfect strike to Hilton. There was plenty more that went wrong.
On one play in 7-on-7, Bears linebacker Christian Jones made a strong pursuit to the sidelines, looking to break up a Luck pass. His diving deflection went airborne and into the hands of Andre Johnson, who went loose down the sidelines. Cutler had a similar deflection on a pass in goal-line drill. It went into the hands of Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson.
Overall, the Bears struggled to muster much on offense and raised concerns on defense. There weren’t a ton of positives to take from these two days in Indianapolis, except for maybe that there were no brawls.
It’s important to note this is all part of an otherwise empty practice in August, but it was also a team that came one win from the Super Bowl against another that was even worse than its 5-11 record indicated.
“It would be hard for me to say who won something you don’t keep score of,” Fox said.
The Colts won, Coach. To no surprise, they looked to be the better team. The Bears are improving aspects of their game, but it would take some good fortunes — how about on the injury front? — to make this season a winning one.
Simply put, the Bears don’t have a superstar like Luck and the so many talented pieces around him. They don’t have a defense built of continuity like their jousting foe. This season is about setting the foundation to become a perennial playoff team like the Colts.
“We’re out here just trying to get better,” Rolle said.
That applies to this preseason, hopes for 2015 and a future filled with questions. A trip to Indianapolis exposed the Bears to a successful culture and healthy organization.
Oh, and quite a bit of Luck, too.
Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.