Looking Back, Looking Forward with Andrew Dannehy

| September 23rd, 2015

Looking Back

It wasn’t all bad.

Really, it wasn’t.

Without their best wide receiver and with a makeshift offensive line, the Bears drove down the field against one of the best defenses in the league and scored touchdowns twice.

Then Cutler got hurt.

With Cutler on the field, the Bears offense has been a positive. They’ve come away with points on seven of Cutler’s 11 drives and have been in scoring position in nine of them. A large part of the reason is because Cutler has completed 11-of-13 passes on third down with an average of 15 yards per attempt.

The Bears are also fifth in the league in rushing yards. That’s largely because of how they abused the Packers on the ground but they had some big runs against the Cardinals too.

Defensively, Pernell McPhee looked dominant at times against the Cardinals and they got an impact play from Jared Allen. Overall, their pass rush wasn’t anywhere near what they need it to be and their cornerback play was terrible. The latter should be expected.

Their special teams are cursed because they let Dave Toub get away.

The “what if” game never has any answers, but this could have been a competitive game if Cutler was never injured. They had two chances to score touchdowns late in the first quarter, but had to settle for field goals both times. They trailed by eight points at halftime and the rest is history.

In all, when the Bears have had their quarterback, they have been mostly competitive with two of the best teams in the NFC. That’s worth something, right?

Looking Forward

You know all those great stats about how good the offense is with Cutler? Forget about them for the next two weeks because Jimmy Clausen will be the quarterback. Clausen was bad against the Cardinals. He wasn’t bad because he had limited reps or because he wasn’t prepared to play. He was bad because he is bad. There are worse quarterbacks in the league, some are even starting (looking at you, Houston), but the drop off from Cutler to Clausen is steep and now the Bears have the two-time defending NFC Champions with the best home field advantage in the sport on the schedule.

The forecast for the next couple of weeks isn’t great, but their opponents aren’t as good as the two they just played.

Seattle just isn’t the same team as they have been. Maybe it’s because they haven’t played at home yet or because they don’t have Kam Chancellor. But the Seahawks aren’t nearly as physical as they have been and even Richard Sherman seems to have lost a step.

Seattle hasn’t been able to run the ball with Marshawn Lynch and, apparently, don’t have any idea how to use Jimmy Graham. Their defense was carved up by Nick Foles in Week 1 and the Packers scored pretty much every time they needed to even without Bryan Bulaga, Davante Adams and Eddie Lacy.

How the Bears Will Win

They’ll run the ball against a team that has struggled to stop the run. Seattle ranks middle of the pack in run defense, despite going against Benny Cunningham and James Starks. Matt Forte should be able to have a big day.

If the Bears get in third-and-short situations, the Bears can throw underneath to Royal, using him like the Packers used Cobb last week or the Patriots used Julian Edelman in the Super Bowl.

Seattle is worse offensively than the two teams the Bears have played so far. The Seahawks don’t really have a “go to” receiver (at least until they learn how to use Graham), which should help the Bears’ defensive backs.

Maybe it’s a reach, but the same thing would’ve been said about anyone who predicted the Bears to win in San Francisco last year. I don’t know if Seattle is going to implode like the 49ers did, but they’re certainly more beatable than they have been in the last three years.

Way Too Early Bold Prediction

Will Sutton is going to  break through with the first two sacks of his career. Look for the Bears outside rushers to set the edge to keep Wilson in the pocket, which will allow Sutton to get his hands on him.

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