Can someone clear something up for me really quick - did the Bears play a game on last Thursday, or was it just decided to be "Hey, the Bears sucked, oh and by the way Jay Cutler did something we don't like and possibly ridiculed him for not doing a year or two ago, so let's make a storyline out of that?"
But anyway, week three is finally upon us, and with that, a new opponent.
Last Year: 2-14, good for the second overall pick, which they traded to Washington for a boatload. The Rams are on a boat. Of draft picks. Right. Anyway (I seem to be hitting a ton of tangents already), they spent last year with the league worst offense by points, the fewest passing touchdowns in the league, and a shoddy defense.
This Year: 1-1, and currently third in their division. So far it's been a season opening loss to the Lions and a 31-28 win last week over the Running Griffins.
When Last We Met: It was a cold, cold Sunday in early December 2009 when in Week 13, the Rams took the trip up the highway to Soldier Field, where the Bears defeated them 17-9 to drop the Rams to 1-11 en route to finishing 1-15. The Rams' quarterback that day? Kyle Boller. The Rams' quarterback after that season? Sam Bradford.
Offense: At running back, Steven Jackson is still the main man of the offense, but this year's seventh round pick Daryl Richardson is getting a large chunk of the carries himself - and the 29-year old Jackson might want to keep an eye out, because Richardson's put up just shy of Jackson's yardage in just over half as many carries. Much of that is buoyed by Richardson's long carry of 53 yards (sound familiar, Kahlil Bell?), but it's a gear that Jackson might not be capable of at this point.
Sam Bradford's really somewhat of an enigma right now. His offensive Rookie of the Year nod in 2010 was largely offset by his bad 2011 season. But by trading away from Griffin in the 2012 draft, they staked their season on Bradford, who to this point has rewarded them pretty well. Through two games he's at a 71.7% completion percentage and over 500 yards, with a 112.4 quarterback rating and a net yards per attempt of over 7. Those aren't bad numbers by any stretch. Bradford's question is will he be able to keep it going.
Raise your hand if you had Danny Amendola penciled in for 160 receptions this year? Because that's what he's on pace for, for over 1760 yards. Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson... Danny Amendola. Right. Anyway, he's the only guy getting consistent receptions right now, as no one else has more than six (Brandon Gibson). Steve Smith? Nothing. No receptions by draft pick Brian Quick just yet. And don't look now, but Greg Zuerlein has put up some pretty nice early kicking numbers.
As far as their offensive line goes, they'll be missing two starters with Scott Wells and Rodger Saffold both out - Wells on IR, no less - and Wayne Hunter (Saffold's backup) missed practice on Wednesday with an ankle. So it's not exactly the sturdiest unit, and wasn't to begin with. Bradford's been dropped six times to this point, and the Bears have more speed on defense than most.
Defense: We'll start this at the biggest area of concern, which is the defensive line. Michael Brockers is on injured reserve, which means one less thing for a beleaguered unit to deal with, but they still have the pretty good Chris Long and the first round draft pick Robert Quinn at each end. Quinn has the sacks so far (both of the team's only two sacks), but Long still puts together really good pressure, so the Bears have to be aware at all times what's up with these two.
At linebacker, you know about James Laurinaitis, who's really pretty damn good himself, but Rocky McIntosh, the former Redskin, picked up a sack in his only game against the Bears prior. The secondary is really an underrated unit. Cortland Finnegan picks up a lot of heat for his boneheaded fight against Andre Johnson, but the man can play. He's not a top 5 CB, but possibly top 10, and pretty certainly top 15. And on the other side is Janoris Jenkins, who is a bit of a rough guy himself but still a pretty good football player. The safeties aren't particularly great, however - Quintin Mikell had a long career as an Eagle before coming to St. Louis last year (entering his 10th season) and Craig Dahl is their version of Craig Steltz, only he gets more playing time.
If the Bears do this: Okay, everything you tried offensively against Green Bay? Do the opposite of that. Seriously, block oncoming pass-rushers, introduce the run and the intermediate passing game, and stop trying to force big plays just for the sake of forcing big plays to playmakers that you just acquired just to show them off. Big plays are nice, but they come about through design, not through "Hey go for it Brandon!" That sounds like something that gets you picked off four times.
And on defense, the pressure has to get into the Rams' backfield. If it doesn't get through a damaged offensive line, Bradford should be able to find the weak zones in the Bears' defense unless Urlacher's knee has given him back his full movement. Amendola and Jackson will be closely watched, and the Bears can't let Richardson get a running lane. All too often Briggs and Urlacher were blocked out of a running play in the first two weeks. Stop that.
If the Rams do this: If Bradford's able to hit Amendola another 10 times for 130 yards, it means something's wrong. Brian Schottenheimer's offense has a great deal of quarterback input, which means that Bradford's method of adapting to it thus far is to throw to Amendola early and often - they put a ton of focus on getting the ball out quickly in camp, and so far it's showing.
To beat the Bears though, Bradford will likely have to get more out of his other targets as well, especially the tight ends Lance Kendricks and Matthew Mulligan, a position group the Bears have struggled with in recent years (to put it mildly).
Closing Thoughts: Doesn't it feel great to talk about football and not about whether Cutler's getting sacked with a smile on his face?