To New Orleans, the Bears will emerge victorious!! Now I haven’t been picking the Bears the last couple of weeks, but I did publicly re-iterate my prognostication of a 9-7 record at the end of the season, and that they would start 3-5, against arguably, the toughest 1st half schedule in the league.
And to my father-in-law Rich’s credit, he has been using me as his source for football knowledge this year, when talking about the Bears and the NFL, to his pretty large golfing group. I appreciate that he respects my opinion.
Now in this weeks’ autopsy I gave offensive coordinator Dowel Loggains a pass for the Carolina game, that was won by safety Eddie Jackson. That I completed that pass, means that Mitchell Trubisky had only 3 more than I did in the last week. That won’t do and head coach John Fox knows it. Now no one will confirm this, you need only your eyes to know, that after the Packers debacle a few Thursday nights ago. John Fox came forward and said there will be changes and that all aspects of the Bears operation would be evaluated in the 10 days before their loss to the Vikings, that they could’ve easily had won. The biggest adjustment I believe that happened, was that Fox put the training wheels back on his offensive coordinator.
As it has been re-iterated all week on countless football highlight, or in the Bears offense’s case, lowlight show’s. That John Fox was at the helm of three of the most embarrassing, offensively least productive games in NFL history. Everyone had a lot of fun this week at Fox’s expense, ignoring the fact that two of those anemic games were wins.
It didn’t seem to me, that enough credit was shown to a man who if he completes this Bears turnaround, will surely head to the Hall of Fame as a coach someday. Part of any management job is managing people. Loggains in a surprising confession 2 weeks ago, acknowledged that he would prefer to throw the ball more. In steps Fox, who prefers to run and protect the ball, and the Bears won their first road game in almost 2 full years, by running the ball down Baltimore’s freaking throats!!
That the Bears had a big lead and almost blew the game by trying to throw the ball, must’ve escaped the mind of Loggains. They didn’t turn the ball over by throwing it, but caused the offensive line to have false starts and holding penalties, that put them in long situations where they had no chance of converting 3rd downs and keeping the ball. They had to punt, which Baltimore then returned for a touchdown. That they had to go to overtime to win, re-iterates the fact that sometimes you have to have an adult in the room that knows what the hell they’re doing and what they are there for! And for Fox, that is to win the game!! Hey Dowel, time to put on your helmet and training wheels again.
And that is why the Bears chose to salt away their win against Carolina by being extra conservative and continuing to run at 2.6 per carry and put the game in the defense’s hands. This game plan will not work in New Orleans.
New Orleans will give up more on the ground than Carolina and the Bears will take advantage of that. But in order to win the Bears are going to have to improve their 3rd down efficiency and control the ball for longer periods of time to keep Drew Brees off the field. This is the tell. Tarik Cohen, for whatever reason, didn’t have one rushing attempt against Carolina. Is he a little banged up? Probably, he has played more than people would’ve thought coming into the season. He has made big plays this year and only had a couple receptions against Carolina, but one of them was for 70 yards and led to a field goal.c He ought to be fresh with his light load against Carolina.
In order to win, Cohen and Howard must be on the field together, a lot. Loggains must find ways to get the ball in space to Cohen in order to convert 3rd downs. Fox will get in the time machine and have his young protege learn the ways of the screen pass. That 70’s era dump off pass to beat the blitzing pass rush.
This will be effective against the newly aggressive Saints defense, that started to play with 5 down linemen and 2 linebackers in game 3 to generate more pass rush. This adjustment was made after getting shredded by the Vikings Sam Bradford and the Patriots Tom Brady for 800 yards and 6 touchdowns threw the air in the first two games. Since then the Saints have won 4 in a row, having sacked quarterbacks 14 times and netting 8 interceptions. The Saints have always been one of the best 3rd down teams in the league and now they have controlled the ball with their more balanced rushing attack for an average just below 34 minutes a game during their win streak.
By forcing the Saints to have to cover both Cohen and Howard and hopefully utilizing both of them in a short, screen-pass oriented passing game, the Bears will open up the offense for opportunities down the field. The Bears will need to get to the lead and be aggressive early and unleash the strong arm of Trubisky. By taking chances early and grabbing the lead, the Bears can then control the clock by pounding the ball and converting third downs in the 2nd half. It will also allow them to bring pressure on Brees, try to force turnovers and get the Saints to abandon the run game. Failure to do this will lead to a shootout the Bears can’t win, against future hall-of-famer Brees.
Bears win a defensive battle and withstand furious rally, only question is, can the kicker make enough kicks to put Brees away. Bears 23-20.