Three Bears necessities to a win over the Packers


Three Bears necessities to a win over the Packers

The smart-alecks/non-optimists would say Faith, Hope, and Prayer. And yes, the task is tall. But most of us probably thought the same prior to that completely out-of-the-blue surprise at the U.S. Open on Friday. So based on the "You Play To Win The Game" mantra, here's my trio of starting points if there's to be a Bears surprise against the Packers on Sunday:

[MORE: Bears catching Packers at best schedule point]

1. Play keep-away, not give-away

This will be the first time we see the offense, as fully loaded as it can be (provided the Three Injured Bears Wideouts play), looks to execute the Adam Gase plan we've been hearing about since his hiring. He wants to establish the run, keep the playcall balance as "50/50" as possible,   and help simplify things for Jay Cutler after 24 turnovers a year ago. The quarterback has averaged two interceptions per game against the Packers since he came here, the same year Dom Capers became their defensive coordinator. But an effective ground game still guarantees nothing. The last time the northern neighbors played here, the Bears ran for 235 yards. And lost by three touchdowns.

2. Win for Rodgers

Not Aaron. Jeff. The Bears' new special teams coordinator. His brother Jay is the defensive line coach. There's also Bears running back Jacquizz and Packers tight end Richard. This is a Five Rodgers Game. The Joe DeCamillis Era (and the league-high 28 penalties on that unit in 2014) is over. Ron Zook (remember him?) is the new Packers counterpart. Reports from Green Bay say that unit continued to struggle all preseason. So if the Bears' offense and defense are in for a challenging afternoon, one way to stay in it is to play a clean, effective game in the Third Phase.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

3. Stay on the same page

The you-know-what is about to hit the fan. Barring Foxborough-like headset issues, communication has a fresh layer of challenges. New staff. New schemes.New positions and faces, from the offensive line to all over the defense. For two years we heard about communication issues on that side of the ball. Not a good thing when talent level is also in question. It'll be interesting to watch the degree of chaos, especially when you can almost guarantee Rodgers (Aaron, that is) goes into a no-huddle offense. Ready, Shea?

Join Chris Boden, Lance Briggs, Dan Jiggetts and Jim Miller at 11 a.m. on Comcast SportsNet for "Bears Pregame Live," which leads you right up until switching over for kickoff. When the first half ends, log on to for "Bears Halftime Live," as Jim and Chris break down the first two quarters and go over adjustments. Then as soon as the game goes final, flip to Comcast SportsNet Plus, where the three ex-Bears and Chris bring you reaction, opinions, and analysis for 90 minutes on "Bears Postgame Live," including live coverage of John Fox's and Jay Cutler's press conferences, and interviews from the locker room.

Film review: Albert Wilson's 75-yard TD shows how Sunday was an aberration for the Bears' defense

Film review: Albert Wilson's 75-yard TD shows how Sunday was an aberration for the Bears' defense

(For a bonus film review, check out the video above of Akiem Hicks' forced fumble on the one-yard line)

When Eddie Jackson didn’t stay on top shoulder of Randall Cobb in the fourth quarter of the Bears’ season opener, there was a clear coaching point from that 75-yard backbreaking touchdown. The Bears’ defensive mantra the week after was to focus on “plastering” receivers, which this defense did a good job of over the next three weeks. 

There surely are coaching points leveled by Vic Fangio and his assistants after the Bears were carved up by Brock Osweiler and the Miami Dolphins in Sunday’s 31-28 loss in Miami. But maybe the over-arching though here is this: The Bears didn’t, during the off week, go from being one of the league’s more sure-handed tackling teams to one of the worst. 

A defense that swarmed to the ball over the first four weeks looked a step slow and frequently out of position on Sunday. The more likely explanation for that development isn’t the plot to Space Jam 3, where a group of cartoon aliens steal the athletic power of an entire defense to use for their own. More likely, it was the heat in south Florida that sapped this team’s energy over the course of a long afternoon.

In this week’s film breakdown, we’re going to look at Albert Wilson’s 75-yard touchdown, which was wildly uncharacteristic of this defense. 

Image 1: the Bears are in nickel man coverage with Wilson (red circle) lined up in the slot across from Bryce Callahan. Danny Amendola goes in motion to the boundary (green arrow), with Danny Trevathan (green arrow) following him, though safety Adrian Amos will be the guy covering the Dolphins receiver. Akiem Hicks and Jonathan Bullard are the two down linemen in the interior, with Leonard Floyd rushing from the left and Khalil Mack from the right. 

Image 2: Mack is chipped by tight end Nick O’Leary (yellow circle), with Roquan Smith (yellow arrow) responsible or covering him. Trevathan (green circle) is in space with Amos (blue circle) picking up Amendola. With Mack chipped, the Bears have three pass rushers to go against five offensive linemen. 

Image 3: There’s about 10 yards of space between Mack and Osweiler (yellow arrow) after Mack comes free of O’Leary’s chip. Trevathan (green circle) is in a good position here, with Amos (blue arrow) closing on Amendola. Wilson works into space ahead of Callahan (red arrow), while both Dolphins outside pass-catchers run go routes to clear cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Kevin Toliver II out of the play. 

Image 4: First, the white circle — Hicks had his helmet ripped off, with right tackle Jesse Davis the apparent culprit. He still manages a good pass rush against a double team that could’ve hit home, or forced Osweiler to Mack (who’s about five yards from Osweiler when the ball is released) or Floyd, had the play extended longer. Meanwhile, when the ball is released, Callahan (red arrow) and Trevathan (green arrow) are in good position to bring down Wilson, while Amos (blue arrow) is there for help if Wilson were to turn upfield to the far sideline. 

Image 5: Wilson catches the ball and goes to the far sideline, away from Callahan (red arrow) and toward Trevathan (green arrow). After O’Leary and Smith engaged, the rookie linebacker is the farthest back from the play of these three when the ball is caught. 

Image 6: Trevathan (green arrow) seems to over-commit, giving Wilson a lane toward the boundary to cut upfield. 

Image 7: Amos (blue arrow) still has a chance to bring down Wilson short of the sticks.

Image 8: Amos misses the tackle, and Trevathan is blocked by O’Leary. That leaves Jackson (yellow arrow) as the last guy who can stop Wilson from breaking this play open. 

Image 9: In missing the tackle, Amos tripped Wilson a bit, which Jackson admitted threw him off (“but that’s not an excuse for it,” he added). Wilson re-gains his balance, cuts inside, and Jackson whiffs on the tackle. 

“Probably just try to shoot my shot on the tackle instead of just guessing, just probably should have shot my shot,” Jackson said of what he felt he should’ve done differently. 

Wilson goes to the house, and the Dolphins tie the game one play after the Bears took the lead. The last image here is Wilson’s route chart from NFL Next Gen Stats, which shows just how much running he did after the catch on that play — yardage-wise, it was 71 yards, but by distance it was much further. 

“We talked about how many tackles we missed,” Jackson said. “Some of that could have really changed the momentum of the game if we would have made some of those tackles. Unfortunately, two of them resulted in big play touchdowns.”

No members of the Bears defense were willing to use the heat as an excuse, instead opting for thumb-pointing instead of blaming teammates, coaches or the sun. But there’s a good chance we look back at Week 6 in Week 10 or 11 and can say with some confidence that the Bears beat themselves more than the Dolphins did, and it’s something that hasn’t happened since. 

“We know we made mistakes, that don’t kill our confidence,” Jackson said. “That don’t kill our swagger. We know what we gotta do, we know what we gotta correct. So we come in here, we’re going to play Chicago Bears football that we’re used to playing.”

Bill Belichick sees "overlap" between the Bears and the Chiefs, and who are we to disagree with him

Bill Belichick sees "overlap" between the Bears and the Chiefs, and who are we to disagree with him

If Bill Belichick talks football, it's probably worth listening to. 

Talkin to reporters ahead of this weekend's Bears-Patriots matchup, Belichick mentioned how similar he views the Bears and the Chiefs: 

“Well, I mean they have a lot of good players,” Belichick said. “They have good skill players, good receivers, big offensive line, good tight end, athletic quarterback, good backs. I mean there’s some movement and some motion and shifting. I wouldn’t say it’s an extraordinary amount. They get the ball to a lot of different people and they’re all pretty effective when they get it. That’ll be a big challenge. They throw the ball down the field and have a lot of catch-and-run plays and have a good running game.”

Statistically speaking, Kansas City ranks 2nd in offensive DVOA while the Bears are down at 17th. But otherwise they're identical! We're with you, Bill.