Sunday at 3:40 CT, the Bears will play a playoff game in New Orleans. This is the second in a three-part preview of that contest.
Last year, it was Mitch Trubisky’s performance against the New Orleans Saints that soured many – including me – on his prospects as the future quarterback of the Chicago Bears. Now he meets them again, this time in the postseason, this time with his career potentially on the line. Will the results look any different?
- Objective one for Dennis Allen’s defense is going to be limiting David Montgomery. If the Saints can keep the Bears in second/third-and-long, they’ll force Trubisky to throw the ball down the field. But their rush defense – while ranked near the top of the sport – has been a bit scattershot this season.
- Against Philly and Jalen Hurts, they got thrashed. Miles Sanders went for 115 (8.2 per carry) and Hurts added 106 (5.9 per). The threat of a running quarterback kept them off-balance.*
- When they had no fear of the opposing QB, against San Francisco in mid-November, they limited Kyle Shanahan’s rushing attack to 49 yards and tailback Jerick McKinnon to 1.8 yards per carry. This approach will more accurately mirror how they approach Sunday.
- *While understanding the fear of sounding like a broken record, Trubisky’s legs can be an offensive game-changer Sunday. The Bears don’t need to call designed runs for him but they need him to recognize when the yards/first downs are available. Every five-yard chunk matters. Every first down matters. And getting that first down is a better option than a risky throw into traffic every single time. Trubisky’s legs are an x-factor.
- Saints don’t have “stars” on their defensive line but they’ve got one of the more solid rotations in the league. Trey Hendrickson has been great all season but lately Carl Granderson has looked like a budding pass-rush star. They move these guys around. They change their pressures constantly. They are a lot for an offensive line to handle.