After a stinging loss to the Green Bay Packers in Week 1, the Chicago Bears have a chance to rebound in their home opener Monday night against the Seattle Seahawks.
These Seahawks aren’t the team you’ve grown accustom to watching in recent years.
Gone are the days of Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Kam Chancellor and the Legion of Boom. The only holdover, safety Earl Thomas, is reportedly seeking a trade to the Dallas Cowboys.
The Seahawks still have the quarterback-wide receiver combination of Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin, but you’ll only see half of that duo on Monday. Baldwin is expected to miss his second straight game with a knee injury, forcing head coach Pete Carrol to flirt with the idea of using running back CJ Prosise as a receiver.
While Wilson is still a top-tier quarterback, the surrounding cast is subpar at best. Surrounded by a clown car full of so-so running backs and one of the worst offensive lines in the league, Wilson can only do so much to keep the plane from nosediving.
For a Bears team looking to bounce back from a brutal loss, a matchup against this shaky Seahawks’ squad gives them a prime opportunity to get win No. 1.
Bring the Heat on Defense
Last Sunday, the Seahawks offensive line gave up six sacks against the Denver Broncos defense. Three of those sacks came from stud pass rusher Von Miller, who was matched up against Seahawks right tackle Germain Ifedi.
Khalil Mack must be licking his chops just at the thought of lining up opposite Ifedi. If his Week 1 performance was any indicator, the young right tackle could be in for a long night on the lakefront when matched up one on one against Mack.
The Seahawks Ifedi by putting some double teams on Mack, meaning the rest of the Bears front seven need to capitalize. Akiem Hicks, Roy Robertson-Harris and Leonard Floyd all should get opportunities to put pressure on Wilson.
Taking down Wilson is no easy task. His elusiveness allows him to escape pressure that’s collapsing the pocket. Once he rolls out, he has the arm to make deep throws down field and the quickness to pick up yardage with his feet.
Sacks are always welcome, and the Bears defense picked up four last week against Packer quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and DeShone Kizer in the first half. However, they struggled to rush the passer in the second half once the Packers switched to a quick passing attack in the second half.
This week, there should be more opportunities to get consistent pressure. Both the Seahawks offensive line issues and Wilson’s penchant for extending plays could give the Bears’ front seven a lot of chances to get sacks or force errant throws.
If those errant throws do happen, the secondary needs to answer the call with takeaways. Mack accounted for both the Bears takeaways last week with a fumble recovery and interception return for a touchdown. Cornerback Kyle Fuller had a chance to pad the team’s totals but instead dropped a game-sealing interception in the fourth quarter.
The loss of Baldwin certainly hurts the Seahawks’ receiving core, but they still have some key weapons to keep an eye on. Tyler Lockett is always a threat to stretch the field, and former Bear Brandon Marshall still can use his big body against to catch contested balls against smaller corners.
Still, Fuller and Prince Amukamara need to provide blanket coverage as Wilson extends plays. Also, safeties Eddie Jackson and Adrian Amos have to help when the Seahawks decide to take deep shots to Lockett. And unlike last week, the secondary MUST come away with a ball that comes their way.
If the Bears defense can generate consistent pressure and make plays on bad throws, it should put their offense in favorable spots on a shorter field.
Pound the Rock on Offense
The Bears offense also has an outstanding chance to bounce back. They came out rolling last week, scoring a touchdown and field goal respectively on their first two drives. But things got bogged after the first quarter for a variety of reasons, whether it was bad play calling on 3rd-and-1 or quarterback Mitchell Trubisky looking unsettled once the game got tighter.
The depleted Seahawks defense can be the elixir that allows the Bears to put together a complete game offensively. Linebackers K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner are declared out for Monday’s game, and rookie cornerback Tre Flowers is doubtful with a hamstring injury.
Without Wright and Wagner, they were forced to sign Mychal Kendricks off scrap heap. Although he was recently suspended by the league for insider trading, Kendricks is appealing his suspension and allowed to play until a ruling is reached.
The addition of Kendricks might not be enough to help a front seven that struggled to generate pressure or stop the run last week. They registered only one sack and gave up 146 rushing yards on 32 carries against the Broncos.
Jordan Howard could have a field day on the ground if the Bears keep feeding him the ball. Howard, who had 82 yards on 15 carries in Week 1, is the type of runner who usually picks up steam as the games goes on. If he gets 20 or more attempts on Monday night, he could easily eclipse the 100-yard mark and help take the pressure off his young QB.
With the help of a solid rushing attack, Trubisky should have some chances to attack the Seahawks’ cornerbacks. Even if Flowers plays, his injury and inexperience should expose him in coverage against the likes of Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel.
Trubisky will have to be careful against safeties Earl Thomas and Bradley McDougald, who both had very impressive games last week. McDougald recorded two interceptions, and Thomas also had a pick despite missing all of training camp and preseason while holding out.
Still, there should be opportunities to get the ball downfield. The Seahawks allowed seven completions for 20 yards or more in Week 1. Hopefully, Trubisky isn’t as gun shy as he appeared last week. His longest completion was 12 yards, and he looked frantic when dealing with zone coverage in the second half.
That is where a solid rushing attack could come in handy. If Howard and Tarik Cohen are able to feast on the ground, it should make it easier for Trubisky to get some easy completions from 15 yards or longer, especially on play-action passes.
While the Seahawks might not be the same team they were a couple of years ago, a primetime game against a Pro-Bowl QB doesn’t guarantee a win. But their deficiencies should give the Bears plenty of opportunities to show defense and offense can put together a complete game.
If both sides capitalize, they should be able to notch their first win of the season and the Matt Nagy era.