Let’s be honest. If the Bears play offense this Sunday the way they played it last Sunday, they have zero chance to beat any team in the league. Not the Texans. Not the Jags. Not the Jets. No one. So the points being made below are being made under the assumption the coach will actually install a logical, professional game plan and the offensive linemen won’t all play their worst game at the same time. (At the time of posting this, it is believed Bill Lazor is calling plays.)
VDM. (Victory Difficulty Meter)
This is the “easiest” game on the Bears schedule. But after Sunday, it’s impossible to call any game on their schedule “easy”. The Bears opened as 6-point favorites in this contest. The line is now under 3 at most books.
What Must the Bears Do on Offense:
- Don’t assume the run game will be there. Yes, the Lions are allowing 114+ yards per game on the ground but they have faced the Niners, Packers and Ravens – three of the best rushing offenses in the league. Run defense is about intensity. It’s about want to. And you only have to watch the Lions defense (under Aaron Glenn) for five minutes to realize they have both of those things in abundance.
- Take advantage of an aggressive pass rush. The Lions saw the tape of Bears/Browns and they’re salivating at the thought of facing this coach and offensive line. They’re going to be aggressive Sunday and the Bears need to counter that aggression with a combination of (a) screens/short passes and (b) a quarterback ready to accelerate up the field for big gains.
- Opposing passer rating against the Lions is 123.2 and one needs only watch tape of their game vs. Baltimore to understand why. Yes, the game ended on a Justin Tucker 66-yard field goal but it had no business being anywhere near that close. Hollywood Brown dropped 100 yards of passes and two easy touchdowns. (These are not questionable drops. These are Brown, by himself, at the end zone, letting footballs go through his fingers.) It should have been at least 27-0 at the half. If Nagy (and Lazor) can’t scheme open receivers against this secondary, they’ll never be able to do it.
What Must the Bears Do on Defense:
- Be disciplined. Misdirection and play action are the hallmarks of this offense. The Lions can’t just line up, run plays and beat their opponent. They don’t have the talent for that. They need to keep defenses off-balance and these are their primarily tools to do so.
- Hurry and hit Jared Goff. Adam Archuleta said something very interesting on their Ravens game broadcast: “Sometimes [Goff] decides who he wants to throw to before the ball is snapped.” And it’s very true. Once that first option is gone, the game speeds up for Goff and bad decisions follow. Hurrying him off his spot and taking him the ground will only accelerate that clock even further.
- Side note on Archuelta. When I first started DBB, we had about 10 readers for the first six months. Then I spelled Archuelta’s name wrong (using two T’s) and anybody who Googled that wrong spelling found us. So in many ways I owe this glorious empire to him.
- Contain the RB pass game. With this collection of wide receivers, the screen game IS the passing game for the Lions. (Some on Twitter have referred to these throws as check downs but watching the actual games would help them understand that’s not what is happening.) They have two good backs – D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams – and they move them across the line of scrimmage in a desperate attempt to find mismatches. This is one of those games where the Bears need Roquan Smith to be less downhill and more sideline-to-sideline. Less Briggs. More Urlacher.