Ryan Bukowiecki is a student at the Illinois Media School and a contributor to The D & Davis Show
The Chicago Bears finally got an elusive road win last week and a major injury within the division has brought some uncertainty for the rest of the season but added possibilities as far as this team is concerned.
Now’s the chance the Bears could win the North are extremely low but now there is potential for some important games. Before Sunday, the Bears were not going to play any game with any chance to win the NFC North division.
After Aaron Rodgers went down, opportunities have awaken for the Bears and this week has become a big game for them. Bears fans should be excited by this development because now it will be clear how much heart and talent the Bears truly have.
Mitch Trubisky has rejuvenated the offense by forcing Loggains to run the ball and Mitch just needs to manage the game by not turning the ball over. Defensively, the Bears had their best performance of the year against the Ravens. And entering this Sunday, the Bears are two and four with the potential to get to three and four or two and five. A win would technically make the Bears still in this thing, so here are the four goals to a victory against the Panthers.
Shut down Cam The Man — The Carolina Panthers come in with 11th best offense in the league. Breaking down the Panthers 11th best offense would show that this team is better at putting the ball in the air (11th) rather than on the ground (19th).
The Panthers are also tied for fifth in turnovers lost and the primary way they turn the ball over is via the interception. Cam has been very up and down this year so far, one week he looks like his MVP season then the next week he will look like the guy from last year. And because Cam can beat you with his arm and legs, the Bears defensive line will be key in staying in their rush lanes and try to get pressure on Cam who has been sacked 17 times this year.
It will be an important game for the front seven but also the back four. Kyle Fuller gave a great performance and Marcus Cooper is no longer on the injury report. If the secondary can build on its performance from last week, the defense will have a chance to keep this game close. Shut down Cam and the game is winnable, that is the first goal this week.
Keep Using Jordan Howard — Jordan Howard had an excellent game against the Ravens. Howard rushed for 167 yards on 36 carries. It is clear that the running game is so important to the Bears success on offense. The Panthers come in with the seventh best rushing defense so it will be a challenge this week for the Bears.
In the past Loggains has shown an inability to be patient with the running game without early success. Loggains will have to ignore his instinct and continue to run Howard and trust that the Bears defense can keep the game close. Establishing the run may open up play action and make roll outs and moving pockets more successful.
Teams will continue to stack the box but the key is for the Bears to get into third and manageable and the best way to do that is by continuing to run the ball. Jordan Howard getting plenty of carries is the key to Bears offense and a goal for this week.
Mitch Trubisky’s Development — Mitch Trubisky did not have a great stat line again last week but don’t be fooled. Mitch’s QB rating went up 34 points from his first start. He only completed half of his 16 attempts but about six of those attempts were throw aways.
Mitch did not throw an interception and none of his passes looked close to being intercepted. Oh, and Mitch also made two terrific throws, one perfect TD pass to Dion Sims and a game winning throw that put the Bears in FG position in OT. Mitch has to continue to get better each week and hopefully the offense can open up as he learns more.
If Mitch keeps doing his job of managing the game while making a couple big plays, the Bears might get enough offense to win. The goal this week is for Mitch to continue to develop and begin to carry this offense alongside Jordan Howard.
Three Phases Playing in Unison — Last week against the Ravens, a Bears fan could argue that the offense and defense looked pretty good. And based on what the Ravens did on offense and defense, the Bears should have won in dominate fashion.
But the Bears continued the trend of getting in their own way by giving up a pair of ugly returns. The Ravens needed both a kick return and punt return for six in order to compete. Luckily for the Bears the Ravens are not a good team. When the Bears play a good team (like the Panthers) the three phases have to work in unison.
The Bears are not always going to win two of the three phases and will rarely win all three but its important that each unit does all they can to limit mistakes. The Bears need complete team victories with the lack of difference makers on the roster. The goal this week is for the defense and special teams to not give up big scoring plays and control field position; the offense then has to dictate time of possession and score enough to win.
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