by Bryan Dietzler
The 3-3 Chicago Bears will play host to the 2-5 Los Angeles Chargers this Sunday at noon at Soldier Field. The Bears are coming off a crushing loss to the New Orleans Saints while the Chargers lost to the Tennessee Titans last week.
This game will feature two teams that are reeling and need to find some answers. The Bears are struggling right now and need to find themselves.
Will this be a bounce-back game for the Bears? Will they be able to right the ship, or will they remain stuck spiraling downwards?
Let’s look at the Bears versus the Chargers game, by the numbers, and make a prediction as to who will win the game.
Bears on Offense
The Bears offense, in a word, is bad. They can’t run the ball. They can only seem to pass it a little bit and not even that well.
Their offense is a shamble.
If you go by the numbers, it’s a sad story. They are 26th in the league scoring points getting just 18.7 per game. Their total yardage per game is 30th at 263.7 yards per game. They are passing for a paltry 193.7 yards per game, which is good for 29th and the rushing attack is 28th averaging 70 yards per game.
The Bears have regressed all the way around. Right now, the only one playing any kind of good football is Allen Robinson. He’s getting the ball much more, perhaps more than he should be, and truly is quarterback Mitchell Trubisky’s safety blanket. If he was to get injured, the Bears might not be able to move the ball at all at the rate they are going.
This must be the game that the Bears do better on offense in. Something has to give. They have to run the ball more, they have to get the ball to different receivers.
If they don’t, the season is lost.
I would look for Head Coach Matt Nagy to do what he said he was going to do and that’s run the football more. I think that the Bears will try to get Tarik Cohen, Mike Davis and David Montgomery going as much as possible to take some of the heat off Trubisky and make their offense much more balanced. He must realize that the running game sets everything up.
If the Bears don’t run, the season is lost.
The Chargers’ defense is not bad at all despite their record. Their allowing 20.1 points per game leaves them 10th in the NFL. Their total yards allowed is 333.3, good for 11th, and they allow an average of 216.1 through the air (5th) and 117.1 (22nd) on the ground. As you can see, there is some room for the Bears to run on this defense.
Can Chicago get their rushing game going? They must and it all starts up front with the offensive line as well as what the coaching staff decides to do. The offensive line needs to get a better push forward to help the running back gain those tough extra yards. The coaching staff also needs to keep running the ball even if they don’t gain yards on some of the carries. It seems they run the ball, don’t gain any yards and then freak out. Then, they just throw it.
This must stop.
There are three very capable running backs that are ready to play. Davis, Cohen, and Montgomery are all capable of carrying the football effectively. They just need to get the carries. I almost bet that the running game will get going against the Chargers this weekend knowing what’s at stake for the Bears. I bet that they run it more than ten times to establish a rhythm and keep the pressure off of Trubisky allowing him to do what he does best.
But what does Trubisky do best?
He throws well on the run and the Bears are not allowing him to make plays with his feet and arm in concert with one another. Instead, they are having him stand in the pocket and throw the ball. Moving him around would help him not only avoid the rush but allow him to make plays.
There are times when you need to change things up to play to the strengths of the player involved. The Bears are not doing that and that’s why they are losing.
They need to take a step back, work with Trubisky and get moving in the right direction. Is it going to happen this year, it can but with each loss, it grows more or more likely that major changes are needed and the Bears will take a few steps back this season.
Bears on Defense
The Bears defense has regressed just as bad as the offense has and needs a lot of help. It’s possible it could be due to the fact they are on the field more thanks to an inept offense. Or, it could have something to do with Akiem Hicks, the rock up front, being out. Either way, this group is not what it used to be and something needs to change to get them back into form and able to help the offense.
Statistically, the Bears’ defense keeps sinking lower and lower. They are still ranked 5th in points, giving up 17.5 points per game. The Chargers’ offense is picking up 20 points a game making them the 24th ranked scoring offense in the league. This bodes well for the Bears’ defense.
Providing Chicago’s offense can score.
When it comes to total yards per game, Chicago’s defense is 10th, allowing 330.8 yards per game. The Chargers’ offense is picking up 367.7 yards per game which is good for 14th. The Bears will have to play much better on defense to help keep the Chargers at bay.
San Diego has quarterback Phillip Rivers and he can throw the ball well and for the most part, Rivers has been hot. His Chargers are ranked 3rd in the league throwing for 293.4 yards per game. The Bears pass defense is ranked 13th and is allowing 236.5 yards per game. This looks like it could be a bit of a problem for the Bears especially if they cannot get a pass rush going which they haven’t had success doing the last two games.
Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd need to get going and get a pass rush so they can help the defense put the Chargers’ offense to rest.
The rushing game has been bad news for the Bears in the last couple of games. They are allowing 94.3 yards per rush which is much higher than earlier this year. They have been gashed the last couple of weeks and it shows in the numbers. The Chargers, with running back Melvin Gordon leading the way, are gaining 74.3 yards per game on the ground which is a lowly 27th. Hopefully, they don’t have an epiphany and run all over the Bears in this game. Chicago must shut down the run.
But can they do it without Hicks? Other players must step up and help take the lead. Will they finally do it?
Special teams were electric as far as kick returns go, last week, as Cordarrelle Patterson ran a kick back for a touchdown. He was bound to do that this year. The punting game was less effective having two punts blocked. Hopefully, the coaching staff has corrected whatever was wrong with the blocking on punts and blocks don’t happen again.
Kicker Eddie Pinero is right on the spot 100% of the time. The Bears made a good choice keeping him as their kicker. And when he isn’t getting his punts blocked, Pat O’Donnell is a very good punter.
We need to see just a little more out of Cohen returning punts. Maybe he can break another long one and get the Bears good field position.
Nagy is taking his lumps in the press and has a lot to learn still. Was he as good as the Bears thought he was after last year’s performance or was last year a fluke? We are about to find out. It does appear that he has an edge over Chargers coach, Anthony Lynn but it’s close.
Believe it or not, the injury bug did not bite the Bears that bad in their last game, so the injury report is light.
Here is the injury report for both teams.
Sherrick McMannis-CB-Concussion-He is likely out for this game.
San Diego Chargers
Cortex Broughton-DT-Illness-He hasn’t practiced all week and may not play on Sunday.
Justin Jones-DT-Shoulder-Jones hasn’t practiced all week and is doubtful to play on Sunday.
Nasir Adderly-S-Hamstring-Adderly has not practiced all week and is doubtful for Sunday.
Melvin Ingram-RB-Hamstring-He was limited in practice this week and is likely to play on Sunday.
Brandon Mebane-NT-Knee-Mebane has not practiced all week and is doubtful for Sunday’s game.
Derek Watt-FB-Knee-Watt is going to be a game-time decision after having not practiced or practiced on a limited basis this week.
Justin Jackson-RB-Calf-Jackson was limited in practice this week and should be a game-time decision.
Denzel Perryman-LB-Ankle-Perryman practiced in full this week and should be able to play.
Uchenna Nwosu-LB-Hip-Nwosu practiced in full this week and should play Sunday.
Keenan Allen-WR-Hamstring-Allen did not practice on Thursday and may not play on Sunday.
Damion Square-NT-Hamstring-Square was limited in practice this week.
Thomas Davis Sr.-LB-Not Injury Related-Davis didn’t practice on Thursday. We are unsure of his status for Sunday.
Michael Badgley-K-Groin-Badgley practiced in full and it looks like he will play Sunday.
The Bears need this win to help keep pace with the rest of the division and plot their course for the playoffs. If they can pull out a win here, they should be, at the least, a little back on track. If they lose, things are going to get ugly.