The Chicago Bears kicked off their 2018 regular season with a bang on the defensive side of the ball. With Green Bay Packers star quarterback Aaron Rodgers injured, their pass rushers were able to put consistent pressure on backup quarterback DeShone Kizer. Even when Rodgers was in the game, the likes of Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks still managed to wreck havoc on Green Bay’s offensive line.
Then the second half happened.
The narrative has been told several times since Sunday night, so there’s no need for repeating the details. Point is, what the Bears had in terms of momentum was diminished with their lack of productivity in their first game of the year. The coverage fell apart, blitzes were ineffective, and the pass rush in general lacked the edge that it possessed in the first half of the game.
This week, however, things could very well turn around for the Bears.
Chicago makes their season debut at Soldier Field when they take on the Seattle Seahawks, a team that lost to the Denver Broncos in a 27-24 showdown on Sunday. Once one of the most intimidating teams in the NFL, the Seahawks have crumpled into a shell of their former “Legion of Boom” selves.
Although Seattle’s defense is not the juggernaut that it used to be, their offense may be in even worse shape. With the departure of Marshawn Lynch after the 2015 season, they have struggled to find a fixture at running back. The likes of Thomas Rawls, Eddie Lacy, Christine Michael and Alex Collins have all gone through the revolving door that has been Seattle’s running back position. Chris Carson is the incumbent starter at running back, with rookie Rashaad Penny currently sitting on the bench. Until Penny manages to take over the starting job, the Seahawks will likely lack a dynamic ground game.
With Russell Wilson as their signal caller, Seattle is better off than most teams at the quarterback position. He has proven time and time again that he can do a lot with a little, but this week could be too much for him to overcome.
Star wide receiver Doug Baldwin sprained his MCL in the team’s opener against the Denver Broncos, leaving Wilson without his top offensive weapon for the next couple of weeks. Now, an aging Brandon Marshall, Tyler Lockett, Jaron Brown and Will Dissly make up Seattle’s receiving core.
Although the Packers aren’t as deep at the wide receiver position as they were a few years ago, Davante Adams is still a top-15 wide receiver, and Randall Cobb and Jimmy Graham still have some juice in their game. The Seahawks don’t really have much in the way of threatening weapons, especially with the departures of Graham and Paul Richardson in free agency.
This could give Chicago’s secondary the chance to make some plays on the ball that they may have otherwise been unable to make. They will be the beneficiaries of their pass-rushing teammates, who may just be the biggest winners in this matchup.
Khalil Mack did a bit of everything for the Bears in Week 1, tallying three tackles, a sack, six pressures, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and an interception for a touchdown. Although not as dominant in the second half, he made sure that Green Bay right tackle Bryan Bulaga had his work cut out for him.
Bulaga is a solid tackle still, while David Bakhtiari is one of the best left tackles in the league. Luckily for Mack and his teammates, the Seahawks don’t really seem to have much in the way of starting-caliber talent on their offensive line.
33-year-old Duane Brown is the team’s best offensive lineman at their left tackle position. While he would be able to limit Leonard Floyd and shut down Chicago’s other edge rushers, the Seahawks clearly have no match for Mack. Their ineffectiveness was proven against the Broncos, when Von Miller torched them on his way to a three-sack performance. Two of Denver’s other edge rushers, Shaquill Barrett and Bradley Chubb, also managed to combine for 1.5 sacks, while the rest of the team tallied another 1.5 sacks. The main attacking point is right tackle Germain Ifedi, who hasn’t been able to live up to expectations after being a first-round pick in 2016.
Seattle is also lacking in talent along the interior offensive line. Left guard Justin Britt has played at a fairly high level before, but he is coming off of a disappointing 2017 campaign. Center Ethan Pocic was solid in 2017, but he will likely have a tough time containing Eddie Goldman. D.J. Fluker, the team’s right guard, is a decent player, but his play isn’t much to call home about. Akiem Hicks, being one of the best interior defensive linemen in the league, should be able to generate some pressure in between the tackles.
The Bears could also generate some momentum by incorporating rookie linebacker Roquan Smith into their defense more often. Despite only playing eight snaps in Sunday’s game, the 2018 first-round pick had three tackles and one sack. In limited action, he displayed the athleticism, instincts and motor that he showed off at Georgia. With another week under his belt, it wouldn’t be surprised if Smith were to at least see more playing time, if not inserted into the starting lineup.
Chicago started their season off on a sour note after losing to the Packers on the road, but there was much promise to be taken from the matchup. This week, with a seemingly smaller task at hand, they should be able to flash some more of that promise.
Jacob Infante is a Chicago Bears writer at SB Nation’s Windy City Gridiron. He is also the lead NFL Draft analyst for The Blitz Network, and he additionally covers the NFL Draft for USA Today’s Draft Wire. He can be reached through Twitter @jacobinfante24 or e-mailed at email@example.com.