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Chicago Bears at Cincinnati Bengals Preview: What to Watch For

A few weeks ago, this looked like a winnable game for the Bears. As we traverse through the week however, the Bengals appear to be a hill too high to climb.

San Francisco 49ers v Chicago Bears
Mitchell Trubisky
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

I mentioned before last week’s game how this Bears team had become unbearable to watch. Well that was before a complete and utterly inexcusable performance against the 1-win San Francisco 49ers. There is simply no excuses for losing to that team. Perhaps the most disturbing part of this loss, was the fact that this team played with little fire and the play-calling had zero aggression to it.

At this point in the season, I would think that this coaching staff would be trying to put their absolute best-foot forward. That doesn’t appear to be the case. It is frustrating to watch your defense sit back in zone coverage while a quarterback with 3 career starts picks you apart. Moving forward, that needs to change.

The Bengals are by no means a great team, they are however, a much better team than the 49ers. If the Bears want to have any chance of winning this game—or any others for that matter—then they are going to have to change the way they play. When you have 3-wins in December, you simply cannot be conservative and allow your opponent to dictate the game. This is the time to unleash your game plans, to empty your bench and find out what your young players can do.

What to Watch For

On offense, the Bears need to attempt to open things up. I doubt that they will at this point, but something has to give. The coaching staff cannot possibly play out the string by running the ball 40 times, can they? Where are the rookies? Why is Dion Sims playing over Adam Shaheen? Where are more gadget play for Tarik Cohen? Why not empty the practice squad of it’s receivers and shut down Josh Bellamy and Markus Wheaton? See what you have. Ryan Pace needs to control the playing time going forward.

Defensively, Fangio needs to be more aggressive. The soft zone killed the Bears on both sides of the ball. At this point, you need to show more aggression. Additionally, I need to see more young players on the field. Why is Prosinski on the field when you have your fourth-round draft pick Dieondre’ Hall on the sidelines? Now that Mitch Unrein is on IR, we will get to see more of Jonathan Bullard and Roy Robertson-Harris, which is going to be essential to the 2018 roster.

Who to Watch

Mitchell Trubisky: For obvious reasons, Trubisky is here for the rest of the season. His footwork looked improved last week, and I would like to see that trend continue. Look for him to get more control at the line of scrimmage too. Whether going rogue, or finally having the option to do so.

Adam Shaheen: This is a player that needs to be on the field. Have we gotten to the point where the mandate from ownership or Pace overrides what Fox wants to do? If we start seeing more young players, you can pretty much bet that Pace has started to flex his muscles in anticipation of a coaching change.

Jonathan Bullard/Roy Robertson-Harris: These two are going to be the men replacing the injured Mitch Unrein. As I mentioned earlier, these two are going to need to show something in these final 4 games in order to stave off free agent signings and/or draft picks heading into 2018.

The Secondary: Not only do I want to see Hall get a chance over an old special teamer, but I think we really need to focus on Prince Amukamara and Kyle Fuller. The Bears are going to need to make a decision on one, or both of these players in the off-season. There are still rumblings that Fuller wants out of Chicago, if that is the case, then I would rather see Marcus Cooper and Hall in the lineup at cornerback.

Keys to the Game

Throw the Damn Ball Already: Like seriously, we know that Jordan Howard is a good running back. What we don’t know yet is if Mitchell Trubisky is a good quarterback. I have seen a lot that I like, but there is definitely some things that need to be cleaned up. I think the next off-season and head coach are paramount for his development, but you can start that process now, by letting him throw the damn ball.

Man Up!: I keep harping on the lack of aggression from the defense. It is really starting to bother me. I want to see the front be more aggressive, which means more man-to-man coverage. Watching the 49ers awful receivers running free all day last week was too much. I can’t watch that again, and it doesn’t help anyone to play that way.

The X-Factor: Tarik Cohen should just basically be the focal point from now on. See what he can do in different situations. Let’s see some trick plays, let him throw the ball from the wildcat formation. Actually try giving him the ball on an end-around. Get creative, find ways to get the ball in his hands. I think we know that him running deep routes isn’t the most effective use of his skills, so get him on some screens and quick-hitters.