After last week’s thrashing by the defending Super Bowl champs — the Bears are leading the league in one statistical category — the number of players on the COVID list. That list also now encompasses head coach Matt Nagy, who may be off duty this week unless he tests negative twice in a 48-hours span prior to Sunday’s game. What does all this mean for the upcoming matchup with the San Francisco 49ers at Soldier Field?
This past Sunday’s game was hard to watch.
1. Offensively, defensively and on special teams the Bears were outplayed and outcoached by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The first few plays of the game told me all I needed to know.
On the first play they pull Jason Peters on a toss play and there’s some confusion between Darnell Mooney and Cole Kemet on who they were supposed to block, and they end up blocking the same defender leaving the safety unblocked to make the tackle for no gain.
On the second play of the game, they run a play-action fake and quarterback Justin Fields gets hammered from the blindside on a safety blitz that I don’t think he ever saw.
Skip ahead to the fourth play of the game which is a punt that the Bucs return 43 yards to the Bears 32-yard line. Play number five of the game Kindle Vildor gets hit with a 15-yard pass interference call that moves the ball to the 17-yard line. Play number six is a 15-yard run by the Bucs running back Leonard Fournette who would score on play number seven. Very bad start by the Bears and it never got any better.
2. The Bears are not an explosive offensive unit as they just don’t have the personnel, and the personnel they do have they are not using properly.
Fields is not a quick game quarterback, he is more of a play-action, throw-on-the-move type of passer at this early stage of his career.
The Bears ran for 143 yards against the Bucs and 154 yards against the Green Bay Packers. That is actually one of the things they are doing well even though they do not have their number one running back David Montgomery in the backfield because of an injury.
Rookie running back Khalil Herbert has been impressive. He has made rookie mistakes at times but overall, I like what I have seen. He’s fast to the hole and shows good vision and cutback ability. Even if they were not able to run as well as they have against the Bucs, it is no reason not to use boots and rollouts in the passing game. It doesn’t just help your young quarterback it helps the offensive line as well.
3. The Bears are going to have to find a way to generate more than three points against the 49ers and that’s going take all three units — offense, defense and special teams.
Defensively they are going to need takeaways and three and outs to get the ball back to the offense. When the offense has the ball, we need to see boots, rollouts, screens, maybe even a trick play or two, but they cannot be two for 11 on third downs and zero for one on fourth downs.
The special teams are also going to need to step up by pinning the 49ers deep in their own territory and maybe even going for an onside kick when it’s unexpected.
Prediction: Bears 17 - 49ers 14