By Ryan Bukowiecki (@ryanbski)
The Chicago Bears are officially highway robbers after committing the crime in a 16-14 win over Denver and much like the proverbial down-and-out person stealing bread for their family, there’s a good chance the team will commit the sin again to make things better at home.
After a quick run back to Chicago for practice this week, the Bears will once again be on the road this week in Washington for a Monday Night Football spotlight game.
Talk of town centers around how something is still not quite right with the Bears offense. Hope is the main ingredient for positivity around quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, hope that his miraculous 4th-and-15 play to keep the team alive in Denver will spark better things for him ahead.
It sets up nicely for the Bears as they go up against a team that has yielded a lot of points to the opposing offenses they have played.
One of the few positives on offense from last week was a newfound commitment to the run and hopefully that becomes a staple. Having an extra day to prepare after a feel good win should get the Bears ready to take advantage of a lesser opponent in Washington.
The road of the regular season is paved with some really tough opponents for the Bears, they need to take advantage of the easier teams. Here are the keys for the Bears to get their second win on the young season.
Reborn Identity — A perplexing aspect of this season so far has been the ineptitude of the offense. Love Trubisky or hate him, most people felt the offense would be able to score more than one touchdown in two games. Perhaps its some rust or that the Packers and Broncos have good defenses or a host of other factors.
Whatever the case may be, the Bears have to find an identity on offense and specifically within the passing game. They can’t abandon or ignore the run but this is a passing offense. At the moment they have nothing in the form of a “go-to” other than throwing to wide receiver Allen Robinson on the sideline. No spacing type plays for running back Tarik Cohen or wide receivers Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller to use their speed in the open field.
None of the deep crossers or posts because everything right now is horizontal for the offense. If Trubisky is simply not making the right reads then they must get a formula of simplifying things to get more plays downfield. It is impossible to win consistently in the NFL without a reliable passing game.
Hopefully down the road this offense evolves into a high scoring one, but simply for this week the goal is to find some go to passing plays/concepts that can get the offense going, even when times are tough.
Trubisky [It’s] Time — The clock is ticking for the Bears young quarterback, Trubisky must start showing the ability to seize his moment. So far this season he has looked somewhere between his performance last year and bad.
Certainly not the growth fans were hoping to share in blissful joy over. Trubisky has called himself a “reps” guy, meaning he learns through volume of repetition. Not playing in the preseason hurt his chances of getting off to a good start but time is not a long lasting quantity in the NFL. He has had two games under his belt and by now has played more than anyone does in the preseason. That completion on fourth down last week was the last play to date for Trubisky which should do wonders to his confidence.
Confidence and repetition have been buzz words for keys to getting him going and given an extra day to prepare should equal a bump in performance. Some guys are never able to put together their athletic gifts and for Trubisky to avoid being another name then he must start showing a four quarter effectiveness. Goal number two is for the Bears quarterback to lead the offense to a great scoring night, somewhere in the 20s at least.
Back to Basics — Last week’s Broncos offensive attack showed the best blueprint to beating the Bears defense, which is to get rid of the ball quickly. A great strategy against a ferocious pass rush that is aided by a secondary that doesn’t give up many big plays downfield.
Washington will likely have to throw the ball in order to win and seemingly need to deploy the quick passing game strategy. Currently Washington ranks 30th in the NFL in rush yards a game, averaging just 37 in their first two games. Some of the lack of success is due to playing from a deficit for a lot of the season as well as a defense that has been particularly vulnerable.
So far quarterback Case Keenum and Washington’s offense has been perfect at not turning the ball over. They obviously will have to carry that over into this week and figure out a way to run the score up. Scoring is at least one thing Washington has done effectively ranking ninth in the league. But the Bears can boast when it comes to not allowing scores as they sit fourth in fewest points allowed at just 24 in two games.
Their challenge will be trying to get pressure on Keenum if he is getting rid of the ball quickly and force their first turnovers. Expect the matchup of the night to be Washington’s offense versus the Bears defense, whoever does their job better will decide this game.
Stop Em In Their Tracks — A potentially huge advantage given to the Bears in this matchup is an edge in the trenches on both sides. Washington is still without their All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams as he has demanded a trade out of town.
Good news bad news type of situation for them since they haven’t felt the loss in their passing game but it has been felt in the run game. Another problem is the drama at running back for Washington since they lost Derrius Guice again to injury and coach Jay Gruden is at odds with Adrian Peterson. Assuming the Bears offense can get a big lead, that may really handicap what Washington can do on offense.
As for the Bears offensive line, they aren’t quite the caliber of the Eagles and Cowboys that Washington faced in their first two games. Still the Bears unit is solid and they go up against a not so good defensive front for Washington. Outside of edge rusher Ryan Kerrigan not much production has come from the defensive line with only two sacks for the team.
The Bears offensive line showed marked improvement from Week 1 to Week 2, they have a great chance to take over this game at the line of scrimmage. As it is for most superior units, the goal is for each of the Bears’ lines to show up their inferior counterparts.
Ryan Bukowiecki covers the Chicago Bears and professional football for WARR