I remember sitting at Rod’s in Sea Girt in December of 2005, watching that tough Chicago Bears team lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the snow.
I remember thinking to myself, even as the clock wound down on our
fifth loss of the season, that this was the kind of football game I
liked. Nothing but inside runs and gang tackles and thick clouds of
breath in the Pittsburgh air. Well…forget about all that. In 2005,
Pittsburgh ranked fifth and Chicago eighth in the league in rushing.
In 2008, twenty-third and twenty-fourth respectively.
year looks to be no different. Against the Tennessee Titans, Pitt ran
the ball 22 times for 33 yards. You could kneel down 22 times and
average more yards per carry. Against the much-weaker Packers front
seven, the Bears gained only 70 yards on 28 carries. In other words,
don’t expect a battle for time of possession on Sunday afternoon. But
will the two teams combine for 80 pass attempts, as predicted by Brad Biggs?
I think so. With Zack Bowman making his first start at corner and the Bears whacking Trumaine McBride
after singing his praises only a week ago, one has to think Big Ben is
salivating at the thought of facing this secondary-in-flux. Tennesee
has a terrific back four and Ben dissected them for yardage, hitting
Holmes (9-131), Ward (8-103) and Miller (8-64) seemingly at will. I
thought coming into the season that offenses would be quick to abandon
the run game and attack the Bears defense through the air to the tune
of at least 40 attempts per game. I think that starts Sunday.
And don’t sleep on Chicago’s passing game. Sure it’s the current fashion to criticize Jay Cutler’s facial ticks and decision making
but this is one confident kid and a hell of a ball-thrower. Even on
one of the poorest nights of his career, he completed six balls over
twenty yards – unheard of for a Bears quarterback. Deep down the field
is where the Bears had their most success and deep down the field is
where Troy Polamalu used to prowl. Our wide receivers are
inconsistent but one thing they do brilliantly (specifically
Hester/Knox) is run faster than everybody else. The world (including
me, this morning) is expecting a more conservative, checkdown-oriented
#6. The opposite just might be the key to beating the champs.