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Week 5 Game Preview: Bears-Buccaneers

A quick turnaround and the Bears are playing Tom Brady, Bruce Arians and the Bucs

NFL: OCT 04 Chargers at Buccaneers Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There are just two good things to take out of Sunday’s loss to the Colts: First, it’s a short week and the Bears get a chance to get the bad taste out of their mouths just four days later with the Buccaneers coming to town and second, they’re still 3-1 and above .500.

That’s it though.

It was an ugly game and an ugly loss with bad play on all sides and more horrific offense but this time from the quarterback that was supposed to have a baseline of “average.”

The Colts defense is the best in the league though and now they get the Bucs, who, believe it or not, are right up there in the DVOA rankings with Indy.

But, they’ve allowed some points, including 31 to the Chargers last week and 34 in their opening game against New Orleans. In between they held Panthers to 17 and Broncos to 10 points. So ask yourself, are the Bears closer to Los Angeles (Chargers) and New Orleans or Denver and Carolina?

I think we know the answer.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

SB Nation site: Bucs Nation

Record: 3-1, first in NFC South

Last week: 38-31 win over the Chargers (they trailed 24-7 at one point)

Game day, time, TV: Thursday, 7:20 p.m. CT, FOX

Bears all-time record against: 39-20

Historical meetings: Week 15, 2006. The 11-2 Bears hosted the 3-10 Bucs.

As 13.5 point favorites, the Bears got knocked around by Jon Gruden’s offense, to the tune of 357 yards of offense.

But most of it was a late rally by the Bucs.

The Bears held a 24-3 lead until there was 25 seconds left in the third quarter.

After a Devin Hester fumble of a kick return, Tim Rattay hit Alex Smith for a touchdown to make it 24-17.

The Bears answered back with a touchdown drive of their own. The first play of the ensuing Tampa drive, Rattay threw an interception, giving the Bears the ball back with 9:10 to play.

However, after a three and out, Rattay hit Galloway for 30 yards and then a 64-yard score. The Bears again went three and out and the Bucs engineered a two-play, 50-yard drive with a 44-yard touchdown pass from Rattay to Ike Hilliard.

The two teams traded three and outs then and the game went to overtime.

In OT, it appeared that the defense was going to set up the win again for the offense after Ian Scott recovered a fumble forced by Lance Briggs on the Bucs second play of the extra period, but Robbie Gould missed a 37-yard field goal.

The two teams then traded punts but finally the Bears were able to a drive and after hitting Rashied Davis for 28 yards and an 11-yard run by (our) Adrian Peterson, Gould nailed a 25-yarder and the Bears won 34-31.

Last meeting: The Trubisky six touchdown game. The 2-1 Bears and 2-1 Bucs met for a week four showdown, but no one expected what would occur that day.

The future seemed so bright after second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky hit a wide-open Trey Burton to start the scoring with a 39-yard score. He followed it up with a 14-yard pass to Allen Robinson.

In the second quarter the route was on after Mitch hit Tarik Cohen, Taylor Gabriel and Josh Bellamy for scores to bring his total to five first-half TDs.

A second Gabriel score in the second half made it 45-3 and the Bears would go on to a 48-10 win and the Matt Nagy/Mitch Trubisky era was so full of hope and hyperbole.

We’ve been chasing that high ever since.

Injury report: On Tuesday’s “injury” report (because it’s not like they actually practiced), the Bucs listed nine players, the majority of which are starters or key rotation guys:

Full participation: DL William Gholston (neck)

Limited: TE Rob Gronkowski (shoulder)

Did not participate: WR Mike Evans (ankle), RB Leonard Fournette (ankle), WR Chris Godwin (hamstring), RB LeSean McCoy (ankle), WR Scotty Miller (hip/groin), OLB Jason Pierre-Paul (knee), WR Justin Watson (chest)

Offense: The Buccaneers offense ranks eighth in the league in points and 16th in yards.

Their passing attack is ninth and their rushing offense is 27th.

They’re led by the venerable Tom Brady (65.2 pct. cmp./1,122 yds./11 TD/4 INT), throwing to his many weapons in WRs Mike Evans (17 rec./230 yds./5 TD), Scott Miller (15/250/1) and Chris Godwin (11/143/1), TEs O.J. Howard (11/146/2) and Rob Gronkowski (9/88/0). Plus RB Ronald Jones II (12/57/0) is a great option in the passing game.

On the ground they’re leaning on Jones (57 car./253 yds./1 TD) with Leonard Fournette (24/123/2) banged up a little bit. LeSean McCoy (2/-2/0) is here but is also injured.

Actually, many of these guys are at least nursing an injury, although it sounds like most will be able to go, except for O.J. Howard, who landed on IR this week with an Achilles tear.

This is a Bruce Arians offense, that is to say they like to throw it early and often and take their deep shots. Brady has had very Brady-like moments (five touchdown passes last week) and a few ‘he might be looking old’ moments (a couple pick sixes already this season).

Defense: The Bucs defense comes in ranked eighth in points allowed and fourth in yards.

Their passing defense ranks eighth and their rushing defense ranks second.

The defense has a fantastic young core led by second-year LB Devin White (37 tkl/2 TFL/1 FR), rookie Antoine Winfield Jr. (25 tkl/2 PD/1 FF/2 sk/3 QB hits) and veterans Lavonte David (35 tkl/1 FF/1 INT/3 TFL), Jason Pierre-Paul (3 sk/3 QB hits/2 TFL/1 FF) and Shaquil Barrett (3 sk/21 tkl/4 TFL/3 QB hits/1 PD).

There’s also former division rival Ndamukong Suh (2 sk/1 FF/5 QB hits/2 TFL).

The defense is coached by Todd Bowles, one of the better coordinators in the league and a guy that many Bears fans pined for after Vic Fangio left, due to his close relationship with Matt Nagy and an overall knack for leading some good defenses.

The weakness of the unit may be the secondary, where Tampa starts four players still on their rookie deals. That pass rush is fierce though and their LBs are among the best in the league.

Key match ups: The Bears defensive backfield against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay receivers. Jaylon Johnson is going to get picked on by Brady, that’s just how it goes for rookies in the NFL and Johnson is going to be facing (if they’re healthy) better competition in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Scott Miller.

Brady is still dangerous but it’s all about getting him under pressure. Like I said, he’s had some moments of looking old but he’s still far from washed up. The Bears pass rush has to get home and make him feel pressured to throw quickly.

For the offense, the OL has to play better this week. The Bears need their running game in order to help Nick Foles and the passing game open up. Winning in the trenches will go a long way in this one, but the Bucs’ run defense is statistically better than the Colts even.

Foles just has to take what the defense gives him, he needs to know his checkdowns and hot routes because the Bucs are going to be coming early and often.

Key stats:

  • Bears have been outscored 26-0 in the third quarter
  • Tom Brady is 5-0 against Chicago, throwing 14 touchdowns against just four interceptions
  • The Bears rank 21st in sacks per pass attempt and have a sack on 5.37 percent of opponents’ pass attempts (Source)
  • The Bears have the worst yards per play on third and one since 2018; 1.8 (Source)
  • The Bucs have only one fewer interception than they have touchdown passes allowed (five INTs, six TDs)
  • They rank second in the league in turnovers with eight in four games
  • Tampa has the second best red zone offense in the NFL, converting 80 percent of their red zone trips into touchdowns
  • The Bears are the second worst team in the league at converting third downs, at just a 33.9 percent rate, barely ahead of the Washington Football Team for last (33.3 percent)

Will the Bears get their first week one win in seven years? What do they need to do to beat the Lions?