Ciarán’s Comments: Bears Saints Preview

Ciarán’s Comments: Bears Saints Preview

As I do every week, I begin this week’s preview with a review of last week,

The Chicago Bears were convincing victors over the Carolina Panthers. The defense was absolutely dominant adding to the impressive performance against the Baltimore Ravens. The front seven pressured the Panthers offensive line and Cam Newton was under duress for the entire game. All facets of the defense were impressive and it showed that the investment into the defense is finally paying off. Akiem Hicks was a man possessed dominating every offensive lineman in his path. The pass rush was consistent and gave completely halted the Panthers offense and limited them to 3 points. However, while Akiem Hicks, Leonard Floyd, Pernell McPhee and Danny Trevathan made many splash plays on the defense, Eddie Goldman was central to the team’s success and it is no coincidence that having him healthy is propelling the Bears defense to a dominant level.

Take a look at these two plays… one from the Panther game and another from a week ago against the Ravens.

When I watch the Bears defense what I see is complementary players at all level; from the pressure up front by Hicks and Goldman to the OLBs in Floyd and McPhee and the very impressive ILB play by Christian “Cheese” Jones and Trevathan.

All throughout the offseason the front seven were given all the merits from local and national media but it’s the secondary that has extremely impressed me and others are starting to take notice. Remember the group that led to fans rioting over not selecting Jamal Adams (yes, Aldo was leading the mob) or not acquiring a top flight cornerback like Stephon Gilmore in free agency or drafting Marshon Lattimore?

Instead, what general manager Ryan Pace did was sign Prince Amukamara during the second wave of free aency alongside Marcus Cooper. Eddie Jackson was later selected in the 4th round of the draft. Again, another pick that got bashed by “draft experts” and local media as Jackson suffered a nasty broken leg during the middle of his senior season.

The Bears secondary looked and appeared shaky at best if you would believe the media. However, inside Halas Hall there was a quiet confidence. Kyle Fuller went through the offseason program as a full participant (Did not picking up his 5th year contract option ignite a fire in him?). Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper suffered injuries in training camp but showed flashes of who they are: more than competent corners. Eddie Jackson looked impressive and so did Quintin Demps and Adrian Amos. This secondary has now become a deep and talented group.

If any of you follow me on twitter, you will know how impressed I’ve been with Jackson all the way back in college and I’ve noticed signs of his ball hawking ability.

If not for his injury Jackson might have been a 1st  round pick. At worst a 2nd rounder. Why the broken leg scared so many is unknown Especially when you consider how he consistent showed his immense leadership skills and intellect at Alabama. Those traits are on display for the Bears. He and the rest of the secondary are working off each other. They are making plays and taking advantage of their opportunities. They have been so impressive that last year’s best corner, Cre’von LeBlanc, hasn’t seen the field.

Vic Fangio, Ed Donatell and Ryan Pace all deserve a lot of credit for completely revamping the secondary and making it a position of strength. The defense as a whole deserves all the credit in the world. They are consistently making plays and resemble an elite defense in the NFL. It is a playoff caliber defense and that is all down to personnel and effective defensive coaching.

However, this is where my problem with the Bears begins. Coaching. The offensive display against the Baltimore Ravens and especially the Carolina Panthers was nothing short of pathetic and I feel like I am repeating myself every week. It’s just not good enough.

The Panthers are a great run stopping team and identified the formations for each run the Bears executed. The personnel, the formations and the execution of the offensive game plan, if you could call it an offensive game plan, was embarrassing. If a high school football coach made the errors offensively that the Bears have on offense, he’d be fired by now. The big question in Chicago sports right now has been who gets the blame?

The one person who should never receive any of the blame for the game plan is Mitch Trubisky. He’s been put in a terrible situation. He has not been given the freedom to run the offense effectively, his wide receivers aren’t getting open and the coaching staff have done him no favors. The blame all comes down to John Fox and Dowell Loggains. While Fox will receive the brunt of the blame because he sets the game plan, Loggains formations and personnel groupings have made the offense too easy to read. Every Chicago Bears fan knows exactly what play is being run and when. That is never a good sign. The Panthers knew what to expect and knew when they could blitz specific personnel. It’s a joke and I for one am sick of the coaching staff not letting Mitch make plays. He’s not Tim Tebow, he’s not just a 3rd,4th,5th round pick. He’s the #2 overall pick, and was my #1 player in the draft. If the Bears give him the opportunity to make a play, he will. He’s a rookie, he’s going to make mistakes. Carson Wentz made mistakes, Jared Goff made mistakes, they are both better Quarterbacks after making mistakes.

It’s time for John Fox and Dowell Loggains to open up the playbook, give the kid a chance to make plays. If they don’t want to take risks then they aren’t prepared to run an NFL team and should not be coaching at the professional level. It’s a Risk-Reward business. If they take the risk, soon they will be rewarded with a more accomplished and polished quarterback in Mitch Trubisky. I don’t want to be here in week 13 complaining about the same problems. The offense needs balance, it needs quick passes, play action and varying runs. This needs to change and change quickly otherwise I can’t see any reason why Pace would keep Fox and Loggains no matter how many wins they get this season. It’s all about the QB, Pace needs a guy that will develop Mitch Trubisky and that guy currently is not employed at Halas Hall.

Preview of the Bears and Saints

Chicago Bears (3-4)
New Orleans Saints (4-2)

The Bears face a tough task before the bye week, travelling to New Orleans to face the Saints in the Superdome. The line from Vegas places the Bears as an 8.5 point underdog which is incredibly disrespectful to a team that’s on a two game winning streak. Many journalists are clamouring over the play of the Saints’ improvements on defense. However, I sat down and watched the tape and it’s improved from where they started. It is important to remember the Saints defense looked like the worst in the league in the first two weeks of the season. Their defense is by no means a top 10 or 15 defense in the NFL and if there is any week for the Bears to open up the playbook it is against the Saints. To beat the Saints the Bears need to punch them in the mouth and keeping hitting until they fall.

Akiem Hicks is often a motivational figure for the Bears defense. I don’t think I’ve heard a player more vocal about exacting revenge on a former team than Hicks hid this week. This is what he told the Chicago Sun-Times:

“You just feel like, ‘You don’t want me here. I’m not wanted. I’ve given blood, sweat and tears for this program,’ ” Hicks said. “You understand it’s a business at the end of the day, but I’m a human being. I’m a person.

“So the sweat equity that I put into the situation, or that team, you feel like you hope that it’s valued.”

Hicks has shown he wants to go out to the Superdome and dominate the Saints offensive line and attack Drew Brees. The Bears need to feed off that energy.

While the offensive play of the Saints has been great, it has not been flawless. They have given the ball away in terrible circumstances and if that happens this week, I expect the Bears defense to take advantage. While some see this game as a one sided affair, I believe this week that we will see what type of team the Bears want to be.

Going 4-4 into the bye will signify growth, improvement and a quiet confidence for the second half of the season. 3-5 puts a big cloud over the 2017 season going into the game against Green Bay after the bye. This game really could be the turning point to the Bears season and I have a gut feeling that this is one of those statement games that can propel the Bears. In order for this to happen, the offense needs to be 100 times better and the defense needs to stay at an elite level.

The Bears have to throw the ball, they have to keep the Saints guessing and really trouble them. If the Bears are able to run the ball on the Saints, limit penalties and make accuracy throws the Bears have every chance of coming away with a victory on Sunday. However, if the Bears offense is stagnant like against the Panthers, I can’t see the defense holding down Brees for the whole game. The offense needs to score and rack up yards both on the ground and through the air.

My Bold Prediction:

  1. Akiem Hicks and Leonard Floyd get a combined 4 Sacks.
  2. Kyle Fuller picks off his first pass of the season.
  3. The Defense gets into the end zone again.

I truly believe the Bears have a chance this weekend against the Saints. While the Saints offensive firepower is impressive, they are coming up against an elite Chicago defense and I think Jordan Howard is in for a big game against the Saints run defense.

Saints 23
Bears 17

My gut tells me to pick the Bears, but every time I do they end up losing. So I’m going to pick the Saints because it’s what my head tells me to do. They have so many offensive skill players and I truly have my reservations about the game plan Fox and Loggains have in store. If the Bears offense is open and balanced I can see a reverse of this score line with the Bears coming out as victors. However, until Fox and Loggains prove to me they are capable of running an NFL offense, this isn’t the type of game where the offense can only attempt 7 passes, play so conservatively and give New Orleans multiple possessions. The Saints will score points, they will get into the end zone. My prediction is solely linked to the game plan I anticipate Fox and Loggains will feature. I really hope they prove me wrong, but I have extreme reservations about them both. #FireFox


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