We offer our six keys to victory for the Bears to beat the Niners on Monday Night Football.
1) Open Up The Playbook
Yes, the Bears are required to start Jason Campbell this week against the Niners. However, that doesn't mean the way the team approaches offense has to really change. With a younger, more developmental-type quarterback, I'd understand scaling the offense back for simplicity's sake, but Campbell is clearly not a younger, more developmental-type quarterback; he's a former starting quarterback looking for a starting job. So, I'd look for an offense consistently called like the other, prior games this year. Of course, that involves, you know, Campbell not checking down at every single opportunity. But against a defense that's as good as the Niners' defense is, having one trick won't move the ball, and neither will consistent checkdowns. Part of that plan will have to include accounting for Justin and Aldon Smith, as well as Patrick Willis, and while the offensive line and pass protection were aided by the rain on Sunday Night Football against the Texans, I feel like Mike Tice and the linemen are "getting it."
2) Jeffery-son Airplane
Alshon Jeffery coming back is huge for the Bears - and when did we ever think that a rookie receiver would ever evoke this kind of reaction on this team? I'd expect Brandon Marshall's targets to go down a bit, still the most on the team, but I'd also expect the rest of the team to get more targets, and that includes Jeffery.
3) Will A Real Tight End Please Stand Up
So, I think we know how we feel about Kellen Davis - but is any tight end on the roster really starting caliber? Lester looked at the options outside of Davis, and, well, they ain't good. So does Davis finally realize that he can play better than he has, or does he continue his ways of this season? In a game where all hands (see what I did there?) will have to help hold up the offense, can Davis, Matt Spaeth, Kyle Adams or Evan Rodriguez step in to provide another reliable target?
4) Continuation Play From Tillman and Jennings
With Alex Smith likely coming back for Monday night's game, Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings have to continue to make the plays they've made all season against the Niners' receiving corps, particularly in shorter routes with Michael Crabtree and Randy Moss. They run more of a ball-control offense but they will take a shot every now and then.
5) Continuation Play From Briggs and Urlacher
As part of that ball-control offense, there's also Frank Gore and Vernon Davis to worry about - I think you guys know what they're capable of. The Niners have a strong offensive corps of a run-blocking offensive line, a pretty good running back, and a pretty good tight end, meaning the front 7 will have their work cut out for them.
6) This Is My Football...
The Niners don't give the ball up a whole lot. The Bears take the ball back a whole lot. The Niners are also a pretty strong time of possession team. The Bears have to hang onto the ball and make the most of their opportunities to score with the ball and to take the ball away when they get the opportunities.