By Will DeWitt
Bearing the Storm
A win’s a win, and although it wasn’t always pretty, the Chicago Bears came out with their second straight prime-time win on the road when they defeated the Jets at the Meadowlands on Monday night 27-19.
The Bears started off hot with a 45-yd pick-six by safety Ryan Mundy on the game’s first drive. That was followed by a quick touchdown strike between Jay Cutler and his tight end Martellus Bennett, set up nicely by a recovered fumbled punt. All three phases started the game so hot that things could only get colder for the Bears.
Speaking of cold: The Bears running game is freezing! Matt Forte struggled for his second straight game with only 33 yards on the ground. Don’t put the blame all on Forte, look at the offensive line. The Bears are without two of their starters, Roberto Garza and Matt Slauson, due to high ankle sprains. These injuries create a weak spot as the Bears are forced to start back-ups at the center and left guard positions, respectively. This has made it difficult to open holes for Forte to run through, and has led to the Bears being one-dimensional, leaning on Jay Cutler’s arm, so far this season. Thus far, the outcome hasn’t been terrible, but the Bears need to find ways to move the football on the ground if they want to be a true play-off contender down the road.
Although the Bears defense played well, it is concerning to see all of the injuries pile up, especially in the Bears secondary. The Bears have injury concerns all over but the secondary has taken a huge blow by losing Charles Tillman for the remainder of the year. Now with injuries to three safeties: Ryan Mundy, Chris Conte, and Danny McCray, the Bears have to be concerned with the overall health of their secondary moving forward.
Week four brings the biggest challenge of the Bears young season. The division champion Green Bay Packers head to Solider Field on Sunday afternoon to renew the best rivalry in football. The Bears should have something to prove playing the team that knocked them out of playoff contention a year ago in the regular-season finale with a last minute touchdown. Yes, the Packers are only 1-2 on the season. Yes, they are struggling to put points on the board, ranking 27th in scoring. And yes, they are fifth in the league with points allowed giving up 26.3PPG. But I have two words: Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers always seems to have the Bears’ number and is 9-2 when playing against them. With the amount of injuries in the Bears secondary, Rodgers will look to test the group early and often. Throughout this week, Rodgers has prepared knowing that he will be facing players with little experience, or, if the starters can play, he knows they won’t be 100% and will want to put the pressure on them.
Jay Cutler has some injuries to deal with of his own, and for what seems like the first time they are not his injuries. Instead, he has to handle injuries to both of his Pro-Bowl receivers Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall. Although they have played with injuries the last two games, Marshall seemed obviously troubled by his ankle last week, and it could be an issue again this week. Jeffery, on the other hand, seemed a little quicker than he did against San Francisco, and hopefully he can be even closer to 100% on Sunday. Cutler has done well so far this season tossing nine touchdowns compared to only two interceptions, which both came in the first game of the year. If he can continue playing this type of football and steer away from those heart-breaking Cutler-esque interceptions, the Bears should be able to put up some points against a Packer defense that has been average at best.
Bears’ O-Line vs. Packers Hybrid Front
This is the week the Bears offensive line needs to find a way to get the run game going. This proves to be a difficult task against a hybrid defense that plays with two defensive linemen and five linebackers including the rejuvenated former Bear—Julius Peppers. It will be interesting to keep on eye on the protection schemes the Bears use to compensate for their injuries. Look for linemen Eben Britton (number 62) to come in as an extra blocker on multiple downs.
Aaron Rodgers vs. Bears’ Secondary
Aaron Rodgers will look to attack the depleted Bears secondary. If he decides to pick on rookie CB Kyle Fuller, however, look for Fuller to make a special play. Throughout his first three career games, the rookie has 19 tackles, two forced fumbles, three interceptions and four pass deflections. This is the matchup that makes or breaks the game. If the Bears can find a way to slow down Rodgers’ attack, they will come out with victory.
Bears 27, Packers 24
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