With 5 minutes still to play in the third quarter, special-teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis had his arms over his head in frustration. He had cause to feel exasperated.
Punt-return hopeful Michael Spurlock had just mishandled a punt to hand the ball back to the Philadelphia Eagles. This was as Chris Williams was going out with a hamstring injury after catching an 82-yard touchdown pass from Jimmy Clausen. That injury projects to take Williams out of the game and ostensibly out of the competition for the returner job depending on how serious the injury is.
Overall, the new era of Bears special teams – post-Devin Hester, Patrick Mannelly and Adam Podlesh – got off to very poor start on Friday night.
“I think you could say it was errors,” said coach Marc Trestman. “If you asked me Sunday [after film review] I could tell you if they were mental errors. A lot of times on kickoffs it could be just one guy making errors by losing the edge or losing contain and that connects to the 10 other guys. There’s a lot of things special-teams wise that we could look at and learn from.”
Philadelphia kickoff returner Josh Huff cut through the right side of kick coverage and breezed 102 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. The side was blown open when several Bears, including linebacker Christian Jones, were sealed off and did not get a hand on Huff.
Eric Weems, competing with Williams for the job of returner, averaged 22 yards on two first-half kickoff returns.
Robbie Gould’s field goal try in the first quarter from 41 yards was blocked. The snap from Chad Rempel was fine, the hold appeared on target, but the kick never got launched.
The Bears also were penalized for illegal formation (not enough men on the line), and Josh Bellamy ran out of bounds and back in to down a punt, resulting in another flag on the special-teams unit.