We’ll finally get our first look at the 2020 Chicago Bears on Sunday, September 13 at Noon Central time, as they take on their NFC North rival Detroit Lions. The current odds have the Lions favored to win by three points, so what do the Bears need to do to come out of the Motor City with the first Dub of Club Dub 2020?
We asked out staff to give us their keys for the Bears to open up 1-0.
The Lions’ great strength is their receiving corps, but they can’t get the ball in their hands without a solid front anchored by Taylor Decker. If (a hobbled?) Khalil Mack has a big game against Decker, as he is often to do against many tackles, the Bears will win.
Erik Christopher Duerrwaechter
Offense: stay balanced. Yes, I know that Matt Nagy is excited to trot Mitchell Trubisky out and throw the ball around the yard like they’ve done the last two years against the Lions. But the offense as a whole will perform better with some semblance of a running game as well. Keep the play calls mixed, and use that to continue the abuse on Matt Patricia’s defense.
Defense: wreck shop up front, and stay disciplined in the short-to-intermediate passing game. When Matthew Stafford develops happy feet, he will mail in gifts to the secondary via first priority air. I think he’s going to regret picking on Jaylon Johnson this Sunday.
Special Teams: execute. Don’t commit dumb penalties, and don’t screw over your kicker.
Jaylon Johnson gets thrown into the fire against an excellent WR tandem in Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. Can the rookie hold up in coverage in his debut? Can he bounce back if he makes a mistake early? They’ll no doubt test him early and we’ll get a good look at where he’s at in his development.
Offense: Run. The. Football. There’s a reason you held a quarterback competition in camp. Neither quarterback on your roster should be throwing 50+ passes in a game. Once the defense starts stacking the box, make them pay.
Defense: Move Khalil Mack around, so that Stafford and the offensive line need to call out his position before they can make any other pre-snap adjustments. Contain Hockensen and the tight ends, and then the wide receivers will be easier to handle. Watch the grabs on deep routes, pass interference can be a back-breaker.
It’s time to take these new tight ends out for a spin. The Bears should get some favorable matchups against some mediocre lionbackers, and if Trubisky can take advantage, this offense should be able to scoot on down the field.
Offense: Stay out of obvious passing downs — while Detroit has made things easy for Trubisky in the past by rarely disguising coverages, something tells me that Matt Patricia turned over defensive play-calling for a reason. I expect more disguises to greet the Bears on Sunday, so avoiding long-yardage downs that could fluster Trubisky will need to be a priority.
Defense: Pressure the pocket. While Matthew Stafford is a solid quarterback overall, he’s got a fairly consistent flaw that pressure-heavy defenses like the Bears can exploit — when he’s pressured consistently, he “shoots first and asks questions later”. This means that, as Kyle Fuller and Eddie Jackson showed back in 2018, you can catch Stafford misreading defensive coverages if you turn up enough heat in the pocket, meaning it’s up to Robert Quinn, Khalil Mack, and Akiem Hicks to turn Stafford’s pocket into Hell’s Kitchen on Sunday.
Special Teams: No penalties, punt the ball far. And, for the love of God, please make anything under 50 yards — because of limited practice time, this may be the rare Week 1 where entrenched offenses (like the Lions) have an advantage over defenses, so the Bears will need every point they can get.
Offense: For me, it all comes down to the Offensive Line. If they can maintain a decent pocket and competently open running lanes, then Matt Patricia’s defense is going to have a long day.
Defense: Pass. Rush. If Mack (assuming he’s healthy), Quinn (assuming he’s healthy), and Hicks (please let him be healthy!) can get consistent pressure on Stafford, that will not only lead to sacks, but will set up the secondary for some take away opportunities. Since I fully expect Eddie Jackson and Kyle Fuller to both have bounce back years, I think they capitalize off them.
Special Teams: Step 1: Sign a kicker to the active roster. Step 2: ??? Step 3: Profit. Jokes aside, as I’m sure Santos will be elevated from the practice squad shortly, they need to play the field position game, tackle well, and avoid penalties. Making a field goal of reasonable length when asked would be appreciated as well (at least it’s in a dome).
Offense: Limit turnovers. Everybody wants to see some huge offensive explosion, but in reality all Chicago needs to do is to limit turnovers and move the chains on a suspect Lions defense.
Defense: Attack, attack, attack. You can get Matthew Stafford rattled, so the key will be to shake him like a terrier with a rat. For some reason, Detroit and rats seem synonymous. Not sure why.
Special Teams: Don’t screw up field goals, don’t shank punts, don’t kick off out of bounds, don’t roll snaps back to the punter and/or holder, and don’t blow your coverages.
Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.
The Bears pass rush should be able to feast on Sunday. They start a rookie at right guard in Jonah Jackson, and their right tackle, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, has been hobbled at practice all week. Even if the Bears are missing an edge rusher or two, expect Akiem Hicks to get the inside push, and expect defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano to stunt and blitz at Detroit’s right side.
What are your keys for the Bears to win this week?