The Chicago Bears (3-3) hope to get back on track when they face the Los Angeles Chargers (2-5) this Sunday. Boos rained down from Soldier Field last week when the team lost 36-25 against the New Orleans Saints.
The Bears’ offense continued to stall, especially in the run game. The Bears set a franchise low with seven carries. Those carries resulted in 17 rushing yards, the fewest by the team this season. Two of those carries were fumbled by running back David Montgomery and wide receiver Anthony Miller
When asked on Thursday how players can move past the fumbles and not get stuck in a mental rut, Bears head coach Matt Nagy told reporters, “Nothing can be done by talking, it’s gotta be done by your actions, by what we do.”
The passing game didn’t fare much better. In his first game back from injury, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky finished 34 of 54 with 251 yards and two touchdowns. The two touchdowns came in the fourth quarter when the Saints had the game well in hand. Trubisky injured his non-throwing shoulder against the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 29.
Since the loss against the Saints, the Bears had a players-only meeting in an effort to get things back on track. The offense, averaging 18.7 points per game (26th in the NFL) has some work to do to turn things around when the Chargers come to town.
This may be the week though for the Bears ground game to get going. The Chargers’ defense is ranked fifth in the league in passing yards allowed a game (216.1), yet they are ranked 21st in rushing yardage allowed a game (117.1).
When asked about the pressure the team faces this week sitting with a 3-3 record, Nagy said, “We talked this offseason about chasing great. Well part of the wheels of chasing great is craving pressure. So we want pressure, we want that.”
In order to do that, the offense will have to keep an eye out for defensive end Joey Bosa who leads the Chargers defense with five sacks.
“[Bosa] has such a dominant motor. He can beat you in so many different ways,” Nagy said. “He’s special.”
The Bears’ defense will face a strong test against a Chargers’ offense led by veteran quarterback Philip Rivers. Rivers has options on offense including wide receiver Keenan Allen, running back Austin Ekeler and tight end Hunter Henry who combine for nine receiving touchdowns this season.
Despite holding the Saints to 12 points (two of those points came on a safety off a blocked punt) in the first half last week, the Bears defense broke down in the second half, allowing 24 points.
“I just feel like when we get this [Bears] offense going, the offense can help out the defense in a lot of different areas,” Nagy said.
Despite passing for 293.4 yards a game (third in the NFL), the Chargers have only been averaging 20 points a game (T-24th in the NFL).
Former Bears offensive lineman and WTTW News football analyst James “Big Cat” Williams gives us three key takes on what the Bears need to do to beat the Chargers.
Big Cat Take #1: Running Man
Offensively the Bears are going to need to run the ball. Last week vs. the Saints after coming off their bye week they ran the ball seven times for 17 yards. That should never happen again. If that means coach Nagy needs to call more actual running plays instead of giving Trubisky the option to throw with the RPOs (Run/Pass/Options).
Big Cat Take #2: Pressure Time
Defensively the Bears front seven have an opportunity to get back on track against a Chargers offensive line that is dealing with injuries at center, left guard, and left tackle. They are going to need to get after Rivers who went 24 of 38 for 329 yards and two touchdowns in a 20-23 loss last week.
Big Cat Take #3: Close Ranks
The punt team is going to have to sure up their protection. Once other teams see a crack in the armor (one punt blocked and another tipped last week) they are going to continuously attack that crack. They also need to build on one of the few bright spots from the loss to the Saints, kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson’s 102-yard return in the 1st quarter.
Big Cat Bold Prediction: