Sunday at 3:40 CT, the Bears will play a playoff game in New Orleans. This is the third in a three-part preview of that contest.
Notes on the First Meeting
Two things were frustrating about the first meeting between the Bears and the Saints.
(1) The Bears had no answers for Jared Cook. The world knows Drew Brees is not going to try and take the top off the defense. He doesn’t have the arm strength for that anymore. So opponents can’t let the slant route go for big YAC. They must have an answer for Kamara out of the backfield. And they can’t let Cook beat them on third downs. That’s exactly what the Bears did.
(2) Every Taysom Hill run seemed to work. When Sean Payton gets into short yardage or goal line situations, he no longer hesitates to take Brees off the field and put Hill on. A lot of Hill’s success is a product of a tough, physical offensive line but it’s also simply a schematic advantage to run the football at 11-on-11. If Hill is converting every time he comes on the field, the Bears are in for a long day.
Both of these issues will be difficult to correct if Roquan Smith is unavailable, as expected.
Stop the Rush, Stop the Saints?
The Saints have won their last two games, against Carolina and Minnesota, rushing for 156 and 264 yards respectively.
The Saints lost their two games before that, against Kansas City and Philadelphia, rushing for 60 and 96 yards respectively.
Keeping the New Orleans rushing attack contained doesn’t guarantee you victory but it does guarantee you’ll keep their point total manageable.
Three Things the Bears Defense Must Do
- Catch the Ball. One looks at the score of last Sunday’s Bears/Packers game and thinks, “Well the Bears got blown out.” Except that’s simply not what took place. This was a one-score game late in the second half and the Bears dropped THREE EASY interceptions. The spectacular plays that go unmade by defenders can be excused. But when the quarterback tries to play backyard pitch-and-catch with you, you have to oblige him. When Brees gives the Bears an opportunity for a game-changing play, they have to seize it.