Bears at Bucs Game Preview: In the Land of Strip Clubs, the Bears Must Arrive at the 2023 Dance

| September 15th, 2023

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?







The Second Week, or Why this Game Matters

Everybody is down in the dumps, especially those fans who spent the last six months absurdly taunting other fans on social media with dumb phrases like “Fields is going to own the North” and “King Poles.” The Bears are still, quite obviously, not a good team. But no objective analyst expected them to be a good team. We did, however, expect them to be a far better team than was seen at Soldier Field on Sunday.

Forget a grain of salt. Week 1 should be digested with the tonnage of salt that is dumped on Michigan Avenue in anticipation of a January blizzard. That is not to say one should ignore the failings of the Bears against the Packers. But looking around the league, it was quite obvious that half the sport (if not more) was not ready to play regular season football. Joe Burrow couldn’t complete a pass. The Chiefs couldn’t catch. The Giants, with their supposedly top head coach, forgot they had a game. And then there is whatever Josh Allen was doing Monday night.

The Chicago Bears goals for the 2023 season do not change with Sunday’s result. This Bears team can still play relevant football in the month of December. They can still mount a campaign that inches near .500. But in order to do so they have to find a way to win Sunday in Tampa. With Kansas City looming in Week 3, they must do everything in their power to avoid an 0-3 start. (And one could argue a 1-1 start would give the Bears an opportunity to erase the sadness of Week 1 with a Week 3 upset.)

But perhaps most importantly, this program needs to overcome the building toxicity around it and deliver a solid effort. No more somber faces on the sideline. No more complaining about fans to the media. The Bears need belief, and belief only comes with victories. And this club hasn’t had one of those in a long time.

A Single Sentence on Several Films of 2023

Bottoms. Emma Seligman’s up-and-down comedy has a tour de force final half hour that’ll make it the most rewatchable film of the year.

Oppenheimer. Flashy and beautiful, Christopher Nolan’s historical epic is also a dramaturgically flimsy and emotionally hollow experience.

Past Lives. The foreign darling of the art house scene, Celine Song’s film is a lovely, if minor, effort.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. If serving no other purpose, this James Mangold-helmed fifth Indy picture has erased the jaundiced memory of the disastrous fourth installment and given one of Hollywood’s finest action heroes a suitable ending.

King Coal. This documentary tone poem, set in central Appalachia, could have been the natural heir to Barbara Kopple’s brilliant Harlan County, USA, but instead is a politically muddled and incomplete work, lacking the depth more voices from the community could have provided.

Note: The First Lady of DBB and I are seeing Barbie tonight, after several failed efforts to check it out. I’ll have thoughts on it next week. 

Five Key Points

  • The Bears defense must limit Tampa’s big play potential, if it exists beyond Mike Evans. The Bucs had four scoring drives in their game vs. the Vikings, and they tell the story of an offense that struggles to move the ball with any authority. The drives were:
    • 4 plays, 0 yards (FG)
    • 7 plays, 61 yards (TD)
    • 16 plays, 75 yards (TD)
    • 10 plays, 38 yards (FG)
  • Kirk Cousins was not good against the Bucs, but that was mostly on Cousins. Even with his errant tosses and multiple fumbles, he still produced 344 yards in the passing game. The plays will be there down the field for the Bears.
    • Two things have to happen for the Bears. Eberflus and Getsy must allow their quarterback to fling it and Fields must deliver the football, down the field, on time. Neither happened in Week 1.
  • The Bucs gave their three backs – Rachaad White, Sean Tucker and Chase Edmonds – a shot, totaling 24 carries at only 2.5 yards per clip. Todd Bowles won’t care if the run game is successful. After watching Bears/Packers tape, he’ll stick with it for four quarters. (Tucker seems the most explosive of these backs by a sizable margin.)
  • Ignore Minnesota’s rushing stats in the opener. Alexander Mattison was only given 11 carries and that offense is clearly going to be pass-first/pass-often. The Bucs gave up north of 120 yards per game rushing in 2022 and the Bears should be able control the game on the ground. The biggest question is whether this coaching staff will acknowledge the energy Roschon Johnson brought to the unit when on the field; Johnson looks like the kind of bruising back that can wear an opponent down over four quarters.
  • Three defenders the Bears have to identify and deal with on every snap: Shaq Barrett, Antoine Winfield, Anthony Nelson. When the Bucs disrupt the pocket, they most often do so with these three guys. Barrett and Winfield are to be expected, but Nelson was all over the field against Minnesota.

Tweet (or X, or whatever) of the Week

A Three Haiku, Haiku

In the Tampa Bay,

with temperatures rising,

the heat is turned up…

on the coaching staff,

and the struggling quarterback,

that bombed in Week 1.

In the Tampa Bay,

they can rescue their season,

if just for one day.

Game Prediction

The Bears are desperate. Their coaching prowess has been mocked. Their effort has been questioned. Their ability at key positions has been challenged. If they don’t go down to Florida and deliver a motivated performance, it would be a terrible harbinger of what’s to come. I’ll remain optimistic for one more week.

Chicago Bears 23, Tampa Bay Bucs 16

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