The Chicago Bears have managed to battle their way back into playing meaningful December football, but it could all be for naught if they don’t get some help these next two weeks.
Their easiest path to the postseason is to win out and hope the Cardinals (8-6) lose at least one game, but there are scenarios with the Bears (7-7) landing anywhere between the 5 and 7 seed.
For those scoreboard watching, the Cardinals play the 49ers on Saturday at 3:30, so if they win that one the pressure shifts to the Bears to keep pace. The Buccaneers (9-5) play the Lions at noon on Saturday, and if they win they’ll clinch a playoff spot, but a loss makes things more interesting as the Bears hold the head to head tiebreaker against them.
Chicago plays Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars in what looks like their easiest game in a while, but that’s on paper. Mitchell Trubisky and company will need to go out and put a thorough ass-whipping on the Jags to keep their playoff hopes kicking.
Here’s what some of the WCG staff laid out as their keys for the Bears to win this week.
Don’t overlook this opponent. Don’t rest on the laurels of the last couple weeks and expect more of the same. Stay hungry, stay focused. They may be tanking but the last thing the Bears need is to sleepwalk into Jacksonville and let the Jaguars hang around and have a shot in the fourth. Keep the foot on the gas, the ball in David Montgomery’s hands and step on their throats early. Defense, wake the hell up and get your swag back on an awful offense. If you’re not taking turns meeting at the QB and getting picks and feeling the mojo this late in the season, then we need to just forget all about what we saw in 2018.
Offense: Give. Montgomery. The. Ball.
Defense: Play with aggression.
Special Teams: Don’t screw up.
Erik Christopher Duerrwaechter:
Offense: Repeat what you did against the Vikings. Maybe open up the passing game some more, too. The Bears could be in a good position to score 30+ points for the 4th consecutive game based on favorable matchups for the O-Line and receiving corps.
Defense: Shut them down. Seriously. There’s no excuse to not shut out the Jaguars this week.
Special Teams: Keep on keeping on. We might see Anthony Miller take a couple of kickoffs this week while Pro Bowl KR Patterson is dealing with a knee injury.
How do you beat a team which so easily beats themselves? Just stay out of your own way.
There’s no reason to force things on offense, you can get your feet wet with safe, short passes to Mooney with blockers, or Robinson on quick hooks. Just keep working them until the defense makes a mistake, and capitalize.
On defense, Garner Minshew is playing smarter football then he may be given credit for. He owns a 16-5 TD/INT ratio in just 9 appearances. Just don’t let him burn you. Their rushing attack isn’t a threat and no single wide receiver is going to burn you. Stick with your normal zone schemes and make the plays on 3rd downs.
Show up, and you win.
No chance Jacksonville blows a chance at Trevor Lawrence. They’ll barely even pretend to try to win this game.
Will Robinson II:
Offense: Run, run, run, run, run, run, run. Then run some more. Alright, fine. Maybe some play-action boots. Look, this Jaguars Defense ranks at or near the bottom in every statistical category. So just keep doing what you’ve been doing, and all should be well. Don’t fall into the trap of calling hero ball, and giving a bad defense chances.
Defense: Remember the past 2 games? Yeah. Do that. Pressure the QB (whoever that may be), and do your best to plug the run lanes (Robinson is no joke, go Redbirds!). If this winds up being a Glennon Revenge Game, let’s make sure it’s the Bears getting revenge for his terrible play while in Navy and Orange.
Special Teams: You do you.
Offense: When you strongly overmatch an opponent, your two biggest failure points are turnovers and penalties. This game comes down to execution. Give the ball to Monty, don’t jump offsides or do any of the countless stupid penalties Chicago does all the time, and don’t turn the ball over.
Defense: Pressure. Attack, attack, attack.
Special teams: Avoid mistakes, don’t get a punt blocked, don’t turn the ball over on returns.
Overall: Be aggressive, and knock them out early and often.
Offense: Keep doing what you’re doing. Pound the rock with outside zone and abuse play action off of it. The Jags aren’t a great team so this plan should continue to work without any issues so long as everyone executes — like RZ said, plenty in Jacksonville’s org likely don’t want to win the game in the first place, so if the Bears do their jobs on offense they should score without issue.
Defense: Contain Minshew. The pass rush has been getting more pressure in the last few weeks (which is great!), but when Kirk Cousins breaks loose for a few long rushes you know you have containment issues. Minshew is plenty willing to tote the rock, so don’t leave him anywhere to run.
Special teams: Keep up the good work.
Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.:
The Jaguar offense runs more efficiently with Gardner Minshew II at the helm, but they plan to split practice reps this week between him and Mike Glennon and not name a starter until later. While Minshew is a better athlete, he’s no Bobby Douglass, so Chicago’s defensive game plan will still center around stopping rookie running back James Robinson, who hurt his ankle on Sunday. He missed practice on Wednesday and his availability for the game is up in the air.
On offense I would expect more of what we’ve seen the last few weeks, but with a few more downfield shots. The Jags have one of the worst pressure rates in the league, so the Bears pass protection should be able to give Mitch time to throw.
This truly should be a tune up game for the Bears with the Packers in town for week 17, but they can’t afford to look past Jacksonville.
What are your keys for the Bears to get a win this week?