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Week One Game Preview, Volume I: How the Bears Beat the Rams

| September 9th, 2021


We’re finally talking about football. Two teams playing. Someone keeping score. Results that matter.

This season, the Thursday space will be occupied by a simple concept: how the Bears beat their opponent that week. Friday will fill out the game preview, including off-topic stuff and a prediction. But Thursday will be specific to mapping out a potential journey to victory for the boys from Chicago.

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VDM. (Victory Difficulty Meter)

93.6%.

Victory is highly unlikely.

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What Must the Bears Do on Offense:

  • Get Cole Kmet involved early. The Bears aren’t going to surprise anyone with what they do offensively. They don’t have the kind of weapons to make surprise feasible and they have a milquetoast quarterback. But they do have something of a secret weapon in Kmet, a talented player underused during his rookie campaign. If Nagy truly believes he can finally run the Andy Reid offense in Chicago, that requires dynamic tight end play, and the Bears are not getting that from anybody else on this roster. It has to be Kmet. And it has to happen quickly Sunday night.
  • Pass to run. The Rams were the third best run defense in the league last season. So for all those fans out there who scream RUN THE BALL every week, this ain’t the week to do it. If the Bears run the ball on early downs and get behind the chains, the Rams pass rush will eat their potato leak soup with multiple spoons. Pass early. Get positive yards. The playbook opens far wider on 2nd-and-5 than 3rd-and-11.
  • Play the cleanest game possible. If the Bears lose the turnover battle or commit a dozen penalties they have literally 0% chance to win this game. Despite the babble coming out of Halas Hall, this is still a matchup between the league’s best defense in 2020 and one of the worst offenses. The contest was comical last season. The Bears need a significant improvement for the story to change in 2021.

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What Must the Bears Do on Defense:

  • Completely shut down the run in the red zone. The Rams are going to move the ball through the air. (How could they not with these corners?) So expectation is they’ll be able to move the ball with ease inside the 20s. But when they get into the red zone, the Bears have to make them throw to score. It’ll be an easier ask for the Bears corners with less ground to cover.
  • Hit Stafford. I have read all the analytics on the value of pressures. Sure, I get it. But this is football and nothing replaces knocking a guy on his ass. Stafford is an aging player. He’s a brittle player. And when Mack or Quinn or Hicks get a chance to bury him in the turf, they have to take that chance.
    • Stafford isn’t afraid of this defense. He beat them once last year and should have beaten them twice. (See the featured image above.) He threw for 700 yards and 4 touchdowns, while only being sacked 3 times. He knows how to attack them and he’s got far better weapons, and a far superior coach, this time around.
  • Tackle on the backend. This might be the the defense’s greatest vulnerability. The front seven is not a concern, really, in any element of the game. The secondary is a major one. Not only do the Bears have a terrible collection of corners, but they also have bad tacklers at safety. Stafford is likely to complete 65-70% of his passes against this group. They have to make sure the 8-yard completion doesn’t routinely become a 30-yard gain. If they don’t, this game won’t be close.

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