Western Courier

Scouting the Bears in week two

Jacob VanZuiden, Courier Staff

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Last week, Bears fans experienced a feeling that they were all too familiar with when Chicago fell to the Packers 23-24 on Sunday Night Football after leading the game by 20 points in the third quarter.

After the Chicago pass rush had Green Bay’s offense on their toes the entire first half, an injury-hampered Aaron Rodgers led his team to an outstanding comeback effort. What really stuck out to fans was Bears’ lack of ability to close out the game after holding such a large lead against their division rivals.

This feeling in the stomach of Bears fans has been looming since the team lost to the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl back in 2006. Was this a sign of things to come in 2018 or can the Bears overcome the odds in week two against the Seattle Seahawks?

This past offseason, the Bears organization did all that they could to give their sophomore quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky, all the pieces that he needs to be successful and bring this team back to playoffs. They went out and got a young, offensive-minded head coach in Matt Nagy, who comes from the Andy Reid coaching tree that has been proven to translate into success, just as we saw this past season as former assistant under Reid, Doug Pederson, led the Philadelphia Eagles to their first ever Super Bowl victory in just his second season as head coach.

Nagy’s main focus on this team throughout the preseason was to establish a winning atmosphere in the locker room and put confidence in his players, who had seemed to become comfortable with the losing tradition the organization has seen over the past several seasons.

Aside from Nagy, Chicago has also added much-needed help in the passing game by signing young, athletic tight end Trey Burton and star wide receiver Allen Robison while breaking the bank in the process. They also added to their receiving corps with the additions of former Atlanta Falcon Taylor Gabriel and rookie Anthony Miller, who was a Memphis University standout. On the defensive side of the ball, the Bears were able to retain most of their starting lineup while drafting inside linebacker Roquan Smith in the first round and making a big-splash trade for edge rusher Khalil Mack, one of the best defensive talents in the NFL.

Nagy, after last weeks loss to Green Bay, has emphasized the importance of keeping the offense flowing and extending drives by picking up first downs. ESPN Chicago’s Jeff Dickerson reported Thursday on Twitter that quarterback Trubisky’s main area of focus for himself moving forward is having better pocket awareness, calm feet in the pocket, and trusting his eyes. While Trubisky looked sharp in the first half in week one, these were traits that he seemingly lacked as the game progressed.

Another problem for the team in this tough divisional rivalry matchup against the Packers was that the defense seemed to fatigue very quickly after the first half. Newcomers Khalil Mack and Roquan Smith had noticeable conditioning issues and saw their total defensive snaps reduced because of that. Mack failed to record a single tackle in the second half after a monstrous first half that saw him take away the ball twice from Green Bay, finding a trip to the end zone on one of those occasions.

Coming into their second game of the regular season, Chicago should come out of the gates fired up and looking for vengeance. They are set to face off against a Seattle team that has plenty of its own issues to worry about. While they still have one of the best quarterbacks in the league at the helm in Russell Wilson, their porous offensive line could spell trouble for him and should allow the Bears pass rush to put pressure on him early and often.

Not to mention, the Seahawks also lost their star receiver, Doug Baldwin, in week one to an MCL injury that is likely to hold him out of game action for at least a few weeks.

Outside of Baldwin, the Seahawks receiving corps runs very thin with 34-year-old Brandon Marshall set to seemingly take over the role as the team’s top wideout. If the Bears can get to Wilson and make a statement in the opening quarters of the game, they should easily be able to contain this offense in a game that should allow Chicago to move the ball with ease on offense.

Mack and Smith should finally be conditioned enough to reclaim their regular workloads on defense after shortened debuts last week, which is very bad news for Seattle. The Bears secondary is competent enough to keep up with this depleted receiving corps and the pass rush will once again do its thing, paving the way for a favorable outlook on this side of the ball coming into week two.

The Seahawks’ concerns continue on the defensive side of ball. Their defense is only a shell of what it had been in previous years. The well-known “Legion of Boom” no longer exists as All-Pro defensive backs Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor no longer make up the back end of their secondary.

Looking at linebacker, Seattle will be without their star run-stopper, K.J. Wright, who has been dealing with his own knee injury, in the heart of their defense. In addition, they also lost former Pro Bowl defensive linemen Sheldon Richardson to free agency and Michael Bennett via trade this past offseason.

With a multitude of key losses, this seems like the perfect recipe for Trubisky and this Bears team to finally show fans glimpses of what is supposed to be a much-improved offense under Nagy.

The Bears aim to right their wrongs from last week and show continual growth in Nagy’s new system. Week two’s game script against the Seahawks should feature a heavy workload for star running back, Jordan Howard.

He is the team’s best and most consistent player and has been over the past couple seasons. If the Bears are able to jump out to any early lead, they could lean even more heavily on Howard to move the chains and keep the game clock rolling. It is also assumed that Nagy will do his best to get their new tight end, Burton, going early on in the contest after an underachieving performance in his first game with Chicago.

Look for him gain more comfortability in Nagy’s scheme as he begins to showcase the skill-set that the Bears front office adored when signing him to a hefty 4-year, $32 million contract this offseason. Same goes for Robinson, who should have a much easier time against this Seattle secondary that currently lays in shambles.

Winning on the road in the NFL is generally a tough task to accomplish, and that will remain the case for Seahawks Monday night as they stroll into Soldier Field. While their quarterback, Wilson, remains one of the best in the business, one person can only do so much for a team.

The Bears feature more impact players on both sides of the ball than Seattle and it will likely show in this matchup. Bears fans will need to stay patient with this new offense and coaching staff, but their worries should be eased by the end of this contest. The Bears will look to take advantage of this injury-bitten team and capture their first win of season when the two teams kick off on Monday at 7:15 p.m.

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Scouting the Bears in week two