The Chicago Bears are coming off of the bye and sitting atop the NFC North at 3-1. On Sunday afternoon, they will be taking the field in South Beach against the Miami Dolphins. This game presents possibly the biggest test of the season for the Bears new-look offense. The Dolphins secondary is a far cry from the undermanned and overwhelmed secondary of their Sunshine State companions.
The better news is, this Dolphins offense is probably the worst they have faced outside of the Arizona Cardinals, so the defense should have fun. The Dolphins’ offensive line is banged up and poor. Ryan Tannehill has a bum throwing shoulder, which could mean we see Brock Osweiler at some point. Either way, I would expect another banner day from this stellar Bears defense.
Here is my list of players to keep an eye on Sunday afternoon.
Who to Watch
Charles Leno Jr. & Bobby Massie: The pass protection is going to be the absolute most important thing for the offense this week. With Cameron Wake likely not playing, I would guess that the Dolphins are going to blitz heavily, as they did last week. Robert Quinn was also very destructive in the first half against the Bengals. I am not as worried about Leno because he has the feet to cut off a speed rusher, but does Massie? If the Dolphins move Quinn around the defense to get match-ups, keep an eye on him, as he is by far the biggest threat in their front-7.
Anthony Miller: I am curious to see how much Miller ends up playing this week and how he is used. If he is indeed full-go, then I would expect to see him utilized more as a downfield threat than he has been so far. His average depth of target is 5.7 yards, which ranks 118th in the NFL. Nagy has played the chess game within the gameplan and I would expect to see him exploit that this week.
Roy Robertson-Harris & Bilal Nichols: Akiem Hicks might be the best defensive lineman on the team, but he won’t line up across from former Bear and current Dolphins left guard Ted Larson. In passing situations, that pleasure figures to go to RRH and Nichols. RRH has been very solid as a pass rusher and Nichols has steadily improved as the season has gone along, including a much larger workload against the Bucs. With the extra help likely going to the right side where Hicks and Khalil Mack line up the most, there should be opportunities for both players to really shine.
Roquan Smith: I am still waiting for the Roquan Smith breakout game, and I predict that it comes this week. Smith has been playing excellent football, he just isn’t making splash plays. The bye week will be the first time that he has had to catch his breath and really dive into his strengths and weaknesses after an extended contract impasse. Like Eddie Jackson last year, Smith is just a hair late on making some plays, and on others, just a bit too out-of-control. I think with these 3.1 games under his belt, the game slows down a bit and we see some more impact plays from the rookie inside linebacker.
What are your thoughts? Which Bears players are you keeping an eye on this Sunday afternoon against the Dolphins?
Stay tuned for my Three Keys to the Game tomorrow morning and in case you missed it, here is my What to Watch For from earlier today.