Dolphins vs Bears: Week 1 NFL preseason preview

The Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears face off in Week 1 of the 2021 NFL preseason on Aug. 14. From game info to player matchups, here’s our game preview for the Dolphins vs Bears game.

Dolphins vs Bears: What you need to know

Find out where the Dolphins and Bears land in our latest NFL power rankings

Tua Tagovailoa vs Justin Fields

Dolphins vs Bears
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) celebrates his first touchdown pass to Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker (11) at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, November 1, 2020. Credit: ALLEN EYESTONE / THE PALM BEACH POST

While training camp is valuable to young quarterbacks, nothing replicates preseason games for those who need experience. Tua Tagovailoa struggled during his rookie season and the COVID-19 pandemic wiping out the 2020 preseason played a significant factor. Fortunately for Tagovailoa and Chicago’s rookie Justin Fields, this Dolphins vs Bears game provides a great opportunity.

  • Tua Time: The buzz out of Miami Dolphins training camp is real. Coaches and teammates are buzzing about Tagovailoa’s second-year leap, especially his mastery of the playbook. The 23-year-old quarterback will get a chance to prove the praise is legitimate against a thin Bears’ secondary.
  • Fields Big Moment: For now, Andy Dalton is projected as the Bears’ starting quarterback for Week 1. Perhaps head coach Matt Nagy sticks by that flawed decision, but Justin Fields will have an opportunity to show why his elite arm strength, athleticism and PA ability make him the best choice in 2021.

While Tagovailoa is the Dolphins’ starter, he should see a fairly significant number of snaps in this game. He needs to get his timing down with wide receivers and this offense needs to gel before the regular season. But with Fields seeing more action, Chicago holds the edge.

Advantage: Chicago Bears

Miami Dolphins defense vs Chicago Bears offensive line

Dolphins vs Bears
Jun 16, 2021; Lake Forest, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears Teven Jenkins (left) in action with Larry Borom, right, during minicamp at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Winning in the trenches is crucial for an NFL team to consistently win games. It’s an approach reflected in recent drafts, including the 2021 NFL Draft class, from the Dolphins and Bears. Chicago spent its second-round pick on Teven Jenkins and Miami drafted Jaelan Phillips with the 18th pick.

Check out or Miami Dolphins 2021 season preview

  • Rookie Showcase: Phillips broke out last season with the Miami Hurricanes, recording 15 tackles for loss and eight sacks in 10 games. Making his NFL debut, the 6-foot-5 edge rusher faces an ideal matchup. Jenkins, the projected starter at left tackle, is dealing with an injury and that puts Phillips in a spot to shine should he suit up.
  • Bears’ offensive line shuffle: As mentioned above, there’s a real possibility Jenkins doesn’t play in this matchup. It creates more pressure on an offensive line. Germain Ifedi is the projected starter for now, but fifth-round pick Larry Borom will play a lot of snaps and a strong performance might push him closer towards a starting spot.

There are questions on both sides of the ball. Pass rush isn’t exactly Miami’s greatest strength on defense, it’s why they are moving down in the latest NFL defense rankings. But Chicago’s offensive line is a major concern this summer and Jenkins’ injury only elevates those fears.

Advantage: Miami Dolphins

Sean Desai vs. Dolphins’ offense

Dolphins vs Bears
Jul 29, 2021; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai gestures while walking on the field during a Chicago Bears training camp session at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

Miami always has to be a bit different under head coach Brian Flores. The Dolphins aren’t naming their play caller this season, opting to employ co-offensive coordinators Eric Studesville and George Godsey. So, as we preview the Dolphins vs Bears matchup, we have to examine it from a broader view.

  • Vic Fangio tree: Chicago wasted little time naming Sean Desai as its defensive coordinator. While he is young, age 38, working under defensive guru Vic Fangio is the kind of teaching that is hard to find. We’ll see some of Fangio’s influences in the Bears’ defense, but there’s buzz about the twists Desai will bring to this unit.
  • Speed Kills: A look at the Dolphins depth chart tells you everything about this team’s approach. Jaylen Waddle and Jakeem Grant are speed demons. Throw in the likes of Preston Williams and Mike Gesicki, that’s a lot of athleticism. It’s going to be exciting to see how these receivers fare against Chicago’s thin secondary.

Advantage: Miami Dolphins

The bottom line: This is one of the more exciting games on the NFL’s Week 1 preseason schedule. Young quarterbacks who will get plenty of snaps, intriguing talent on defense and quality coaching. All of that is a recipe for the Dolphins vs Bears game being entertaining.

Will the Dolphins make the playoffs in 2021? Check out our NFL playoff and Super Bowl picks