By Bryan Dietzler
The Chicago Bears, coming off a heartbreaking 23-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in Week One, will travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers this Sunday. The Bucs haven’t played a regular season game yet this season because of Hurricane Irma. They had their bye week last week.
Chicago’s offense had its problems against the Falcons, but they played well enough to almost win. The running game was solid but the passing game had issues. Their passing attack suffered some setbacks on the injury front on Sunday as well as they lost wide receiver Kevin White for the year.
Now they need other players to step up and contribute.
Let’s look at the Bears offense and how it compares to Tampa’s defense. Can Chicago beat the Bucs defense or will Tampa’s talented D stuff the Bears? Let’s find out in this detailed preview.
Glennon didn’t look like a world beater on Sunday and he started out slow. But, after a first half which saw him throw for just 25 yards, Glennon lit it up, somewhat, in the second half and nearly got his team a victory. Can he continue to build upon his performance last week where he had a quarterback rating of 86.8 with 213 yards and a touchdown?
What is he up against this Sunday?
The Buccaneers will be able to put some pass pressure on Glennon and, as we saw against Atlanta, he can stand against the rush but struggles to move around the pocket. To not get sacked constantly, he will need better protection from his offensive line.
Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is the Bucs number one pass rusher and had seven sacks a year ago. He will be joined by former Washington Redskins defensive end Chris Baker who is a relentless pass rusher without the production (3.5 sacks last season).
Glennon seemed to adjust to pressure as the game went on Sunday but still struggles to get away from the rush. Hopefully, he will get some help from his offensive line in this game. The line must do better in this game.
We know that Chicago’s wide receiving corps took a hit after the loss of White, so Glennon’ s options are few and far between. But, in last week’s game, we saw Kendall Wright emerge a bit at the end of the game so he might step up. Plus, maybe Markus Wheaton will be back.
Josh Bellamy can contribute when he catches the ball. Chicago has brought up Tanner Gentry from the practice squad too.
The lack of talent at the wide receiver will continue to handcuff the Bears this season. Unless they make some trades, this is going to be a tough position to watch in 2017.
Tampa Bay’s cornerbacks are solid. Brent Grimes is one of the better corners in the league and has been in the league forever, so he knows a little bit of everything. Vernon Hargreaves, a rookie last year, still has some growing to do but is solid. They both will play Chicago’s receivers tough and make life difficult for the Bears passing game.
The Bears leading receiver last week was Tarik Cohen with eight receptions for 47 yards. Zach Miller led the tight ends with four catches for 39 yards while Kendall Wright led the wide receiving group with three catches for 34 yards.
You can bet that Glennon will use whomever he trusts in this game to get the ball too often. Last week it was Cohen and it might be him again this week.
I have no stats to throw at you about how good the Bucs pass defense is because they haven’t played a game yet.
As fans, we can go into this game hoping that Chicago can do something against Tampa’s defense through the air. Maybe they will build upon what they did last week in the fourth quarter and keep on moving forward.
Hopefully, we will see even more progress this Sunday.
This preview can’t be complete without talking about the tight end group. We already know that Miller was the Bears leading tight end last Sunday but his counterpart, Dion Sims, had a good game also. Expect the tight ends to get a lot of looks this Sunday and help bail Glennon out of some tough situations.
The Bears’ tight end group is a good one and is one of the best tight end groups the Bears have had in a while.
The running backs were impressive last week if you take away Jordan Howard’s dropped pass at the goal line. Cohen had a breakout game and hopefully, he can continue to do what he did consistently. But Tampa’s defense will be keying in on him and so you shouldn’t expect the same big day out of him this week that he had last Sunday.
He will get a lot of looks and they will try to get the ball often. Hopefully, they succeed. A mix of Howard and Cohen will be good for the Bears and will help keep the pressure off Glennon while adding another dimension to the offense.
Chicago’s offensive line was a little shaky to start the season but maybe they get things straight and play better in Week Two. Bobbie Massie struggled while Cody Whitehair couldn’t keep the laundry off the ground.
Kyle Long’s return is still in question but they need to get him back as quickly as possible. They not only need his Pro Bowl caliber talent but his leadership as well.
Swinging to the Buc’s defense, we have talked about McCoy, Baker and their cornerbacks but there are other difference makers.
At linebacker, middle linebacker Kwon Alexander led the team in tackles last year and might be their best defender. Chicago will need to account for him on every play. They should also be conscious of where Kendall Beckwith and LeVonte David are at all times.
Going back to the defensive line, the Bucs have another player that might be difficult for the offensive line to block. Robert Ayers is an above average defensive end who likes to line up on the right side of the defense. This means that offensive tackle Charles Leno, Jr., will have his hands full.
The safety position will be manned by Keith Tandy at free safety and the newly acquired T.J. Ward at the strong safety spot. Both are capable tacklers and can cover well.
There is one more safety on the Buccaneers’ defense who is worth mentioning. Every Bears fan will remember Chris Conte. Remember his final game with his former team? Remember what he did to the Bears last year? That’s something we all would like to forget.
Well, he will be in Tampa waiting for the Bears this year again. Wouldn’t it be nice if Chicago could get the best of him Sunday?
Chicago’s offense may struggle again especially in the passing game now that they are short one receiver in Kevin White. The Bears have made up for White’s loss by bringing up some talent but the new guy, Gentry is untested. Can the pass catching star and fan favorite from training camp make a difference?
What about Howard’s injury (shoulder) will that limit him or keep him out of the lineup Sunday?
The Bears cannot afford to have that many more injuries. They don’t want this season to turn into a carbon copy of last year.
Next Up: We will look at the injury report for both teams and how it might affect Sunday’s game.
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