The start to the Bears season may have been expected but not totally expected.
The Falcons and Buccaneers were not the easiest opponents for Mike Glennon to start his Bears career. In my season prediction article, I have the Bears starting 0-4. While it may be a surprise to some, it is realistic given the football we have seen through the first two games. In the home opener, the Bears competed. If it was not for a blown coverage, the Bears could have pulled out a win. For Tampa Bay, it seemed as if the Bears did not show up. The competition level was low and brought back flashbacks of last year’s blowout game at Raymond James.
The Bears return to Soldier Field on Sunday in hopes of turning things around. Coach John Fox will have three starters back, all making their season debut: left guard Kyle Long, wide receiver Markus Wheaton, and corner-back Prince Amukamara. It is uncertin what impact they will have and will it really make a difference. We all know the Bears success, along with every other NFL team, relies on the quarterback play. Glennon is on the hot seat. Rookie Mitch Trubisky’s preseason play and continued development is knocking on the door. How long until the Bears answer? Hopefully sooner rather than later.
In this post, Thomas Gibbons will look at three things to watch in Sunday’s showdown at Soldier Field.
The run game
Have the Bears forgotten they have the second league leading rusher from last season? Through two games, Howard has 22 carries. Unacceptable.
The Bears have to establish the run game–early on Sunday if the offense wants to have success. Glennon has not taken any deep shots or moved the ball well overall through the air. If the Bears want to have a chance, Howard needs be a play-maker.
The Bears are without their top receivers in Cameron Meredith and Kevin White. Howard needs to get 20-25 carries. The pro-bowler showed he can be relied on last season and they have to go back to him again. Inside/outside zone is where Howard excels. If you look at the tape from his rookie year, Howard was efficient between the tackles. The Bears need to get back to the zone scheme on Sunday, it’s a must.
Tarik Cohen needs to get the rock a lot too. The rookie has explosive ability and the Bears have showcased him in the backfield and in the slot.
Coach Fox has preached on multiple occasions that the Bears will be a run-oriented offense, but we have not really seen that yet. Yes the Bears were playing from behind in Tampa Bay but you do not totally abandon the run, especially with a struggling quarterback. If the Bears want to avoid another 0-3 start, they must establish the run game and never abandon it, even when they are down.
Where is Leonard Floyd? Where is this player who had a tremendous offseason and was killing it in camp? The Bears need Floyd in a big way tomorrow going up against Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers dangerous offense.
Floyd, who had 7.0 sacks in his rookie campaign, worked on fixing his technique and adding muscle this offseason. We saw flashes of excellence last season from the Georgia product, but there has to be more consistency. From staying healthy to production, the Bears need big production from Floyd in year. In the first two games, Floyd has not been a standout to say the least.
Instead of just the standard outside rush, the Bears should do twists with Floyd and the defensive end. When I say twists, I mean a defensive line stunt, where the defensive end goes for an outside rush and the outside linebacker “twists” inside and takes on the offensive guard. Watch for these twists tomorrow, especially on third and long.
With Josh Sitton (ribs) doubtful and Tom Compton (hip) questionable, the Bears could be down two guards. If Compton does not go, we will probably see Hroniss Grasu at center and Cody Whitehair moved to right guard.
No Eric Kush really hurts right now. Kush, who suffered a torn hamstring in the preseason, signed a two-year extension this offseason after playing well last season. If Kyle Long was ready to start the season, Kush was going to be the man.
Long will make his season debut tomorrow, but the Bears offensive line will not be at its best without Sitton at the other guard. Compton has played pretty well in two games. Grasu is not bad, but Whitehair is better suited at center. The Bears really have to hope Sitton is ready to go for Green Bay because they need their offensive line to play together.
Kickoff is at noon. Can the Bears avoid 0-3?