By Ryan Bukowiecki (@ryanbski)
A new week brings a new game and a new level of intrigue for the Chicago Bears. Like last week, the Bears will be favored in their match-up against the New York Giants in the season’s home opener this Sunday.
Last week brought a dramatic victory, to say the least, over the Lions in what was a sloppy game that turned on its head in the fourth quarter, allowing the Bears to steal the opener, the franchise’s first 1-0 start since 2013.
Surely, Chicago’s coaching staff and players want to exercise the demons that made the Detroit win bittersweet and get off to a good start this week. Unfortunately, it has been the M.O. of this Bears team to start slow in games, especially the offense and quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
Into town comes a rebuilding Giants team that took a loss to Pittsburgh in its Monday night opener. The Giants aren’t a very imposing team right now, which should allow the Bears early opportunities to seize control of the game like in the opener, though those opportunities against the Lions weren’t seized upon.
The Bears must clean up the errors they made defensively in Week 1, continue to get the ball downfield or in space to their play-makers, and convert on third down. Since the Bears are collectively a better team than the Giants a winning effort and a 2-0 record will be about all the little things and various other football cliches.
Less cliche are these week’s goals the Bears must accomplish in order to get the win. Remember to visit WARR on Anchor, WARR Media’s podcast platform, for the podcast version of 4th and Goal(s), featuring more detailed breakdowns of each game’s goals.
Trubisky Turnaround — Last week Trubisky and head coach Matt Nagy looked a lot more capable offensively compared to all of 2019.
That being said Trubisky definitely gave fans that same gut-wrenching feeling so recognizable from his first three seasons as he struggled mightily for three quarters.
A glimmer of hope from Trubisky in the fourth quarter gave the story of the Bears starting quarterback a potential new subplot, but will it be enough for him to keep his job secure? Another bad half and Mitch may get a rude answer, so he’d want to get more production in before people can question him for another week.
Wall of Bricks or Straw? — The run defense of the Chicago Bears just didn’t make the trip to Detroit and it may be absent for some future contests given that premier run-stopper, defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, opted out for this season due to concerns with COVID-19. Goldman’s loss could be a bigger problem than the team thought prior to the season’s start.
Last Sunday was an ugly day for a Bears defense that is being counted on to deliver again this year. Therefore improving at stopping the run is of utmost importance and certainly a goal for this week with Giants running back Saquon Barkley firmly established as one of the league’s most prolific run producers, despite having very little talent around him.
Convert Your Thirds — Third down conversions are a key stat that both offenses and defenses look at intently to gauge success. Pretty simple stuff here — offenses that convert third downs usually tend to be more successful than teams that are incapable.
Last week the Bears were absolutely dreadful on third down, but luckily they were still able to get the win. Of course living by this blueprint will equal a lot more losses than wins as the Bears move forward. This week is as good as any to instill converting thirds as a consistent quality.
Keep Sharpening the Skill Players — Viewing the Bears Week 1 performance as purely negative would be doing the team a disservice even if the overall performance was disappointing in many ways.
In 2019, the Bears had a real void from the skill positions on offense. Wide receivers gave very little besides Allen Robinson. Running backs and the run game were extremely disappointing, especially Tarik Cohen. I’d comment on the tight ends too, but they were completely non existent.
Here in 2020, though its still early, all the skill positions are showing more promise than a season ago. The Bears need to keep this progression a priority against a Giants team that could very well yield much points and yards to them.
Any sort of offensive faultiness could be looked at as a set-back for a Bears team that would rather feed off confidence then stay stuck in self-reflection as the season gets tougher.
Ryan Bukowiecki covers the Chicago Bears and professional football for WARR