BIRD WEEK: Bears Clobber Seahawks, Look to Kill A Bird of a Different Feather, the Cardinals, on Sunday
The Chicago Bears dominated the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football, winning 24-17. Now the Bears (1-1) go back on the road to Phoenix, Arizona where they will play the Arizona Cardinals (0-2) on Sunday afternoon at 3:25 pm central time.
On MNF, the Bears defense destroyed the Seahawks offense, sacking Seattle’s star QB Russell Wilson six times. They also forced 2 turnovers, including an interception by CB #20 Prince Amukamara that he took to the house for a touchdown in the 4th quarter. It was Amukamara’s first interception in a Bears uniform in his 16th game after playing 14 games last year in his first season since arriving from Jacksonville and the New York Giants. It was Prince’s 8th career INT and 1st career TD.
OLB #52 Khalil Mack picked up where he left off in Week 1’s dominant performance at Green Bay. Mack had another strip sack in this one, on a phenomenal play to leave Russell Wilson grasping at air rather than gripping the football.
How good is this Bears defense? Potentially excellent. You could make an argument that Chicago has the 3rd or 4th best defense in the NFL right now, behind only the Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, and Los Angeles Rams. Of course, it’s very early in this ’18 season and who knows how good the Packers’ and Seahawks’ offenses will be. I think it’s safe to say this Chicago defense has improved and will likely be a top 10 defensive unit under DC Vic Fangio, with the potential to finish in the top 5 and maybe even top 3. We shall see.
Of course, one underrated part of having a great defense is having an offense that can support the defense by holding onto the ball with time of possession, plus providing good field position. If the offense continues to give the ball away like QB #10 Mitch Trubisky did twice on Monday Night, this Bears defense might not reach its potential.
But now is the time to celebrate! It was Coach Matt Nagy’s 1st win as an NFL head coach. It was Khalil Mack’s 1st game in front of the Bears fans at home in Soldier Field. The victory evened the Bears record at 1-1, the first time the Bears have been .500 since 2014. I know!
WR #12 Allen Robinson – Robinson caught 10 passes from his QB #10 Mitch Trubisky on MNF for 83 yards, both team highs. He was targeted 14 times which was also a Bears team high. It seemed and felt like it too. Forget about easing Robinson back into the action because of his torn ACL last year. Coach Nagy and Trubisky looked for him so often it was almost too much, in my opinion. I would’ve liked to see Robinson’s backup, #11 Kevin White get more playing time personally. Nonetheless, a solid performance by Robinson.
TE #80 Trey Burton – Burton caught all 4 passes on MNF on which he was targeted, including the first touchdown of the game. He only totaled 20 yards on those 4 receptions, but the Bears never looked back after that 96 yard, opening-drive score. Watch for Burton to have a big year in this offense. Nagy seems to love using tight ends in his offensive play-calling and GM Ryan Pace targeted Burton specifically to be the man for this scheme, signing him away from the Philadelphia Eagles this Spring.
ILB #58 Roquan Smith – One week after only playing 8 snaps at Green Bay, Roquan made a full-out jump to playing almost the entire game! It, and he, made a big difference too. Smith recorded 7 tackles, had 1 PBU, and provided big-time speed against Seattle. In fact, there were a few times where I had to catch myself from gasping in amazement at his lateral speed. We haven’t seen speed like Roquan’s since, gulp, Brian Urlacher circa 2002! I’m serious. Check the tape. There were a few plays in which Seattle stretched the Bears defense with an outside running play. If you watch Roquan, you’ll see incredible instincts and speed to the outside. He is a special player. As I’ve said already……whisper it to your friends….Roquan is on his way to Canton.
OLB #52 Khalil Mack – Speaking of Canton, Khalil Mack is such a beast that there is little doubt that he’ll end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. You might think we’re nuts over here but the “Dutch Lion” has predicted these HOFers before. When Charles Woodson was drafted in 1998, a young “Lion” predicted a Hall of Fame jacket for Woodson. Early in Brian’s career, we’ll say 2000-2002, we predicted a Hall of Fame jacket for Urlacher too. Now it’s happening again. Mack and Roquan Smith will both enter the Hall of Fame someday. Mark it down. As for this game, Mack did damage on rushing mobile QB Russell Wilson. He had 5 tackles, 1 sack, and provided constant pressure. Seattle’s OL must have had nightmares while they slept on the sidelines during the game, trying to recover from the massive pressure that Mack provided. They looked sleepy out there. Maybe somebody should have given them some “5 Hour Energy”.
Player of the Game
ILB #59 Danny Trevathan – Danny went nuts on MNF. He’s a primetime player and boy did he show it on the national stage. Trevathan had 8 tackles, 3 TFL’s, and 2 Sacks! He was all over the place. I think we are now seeing what this Bears front seven can do when everybody is healthy, along with adding the two newcomers (Mack and Smith). Of course, #94 Leonard Floyd still has a club on his hand (“Dahhhh, he’s got a club” – former Bears HC Dave Wannstedt), but once Floyd’s hand heals this front seven will be the stuff that Wanny could only dream about back in his day.
In my Bears/Seahawks Preview, I wrote:
“The Bears, on the other hand, are primed to get back to a winning culture. That winning begins tonight in Soldier Field on the shores of Lake Michigan.
Chicago is favored by 5 points according to today’s Chicago Tribune. I’ll take the Bears both S/U and ATS.
Chicago Bears 27, Seattle Seahawks 16″
RESULT: Chicago Bears 24, Seattle Seahawks 17
- Well done Dutch Lion! That was as good as the Bears played on MNF. We were only 4 points away from a perfect pick. Nice work!
- Chicago Bears : 1-1
- Dutch Lion : 2-0
So now the Chicago Bears (1-1) head out West for a Week 3 meeting with the Arizona Cardinals (0-2) on Sunday. Third place Chicago is happy to be out of the NFC North basement while Arizona is just hoping they don’t stay in the NFL’s basement for too long. So far the Cardinals have been outscored 58-6 in their first two ballgames. They lost their home opener to Washington 24-6 prior to being shutout on the road in Los Angeles to the Rams 34-0 last week. Ouch!
If you read my Bears Previews the last two seasons, you know I like using Troy Aikman’s team ratings system. It’s a much better ranking that the NFL’s simple yardage rankings. Here’s how Mr. Aikman has the Bears and Cardinals matching up in Week 3.
Aikman Efficiency Ratings (AER)
- Chicago: 18th overall (149.5), 24th offense (75.4), 12th defense (74.1)
- Arizona: 32nd overall (103.5), 32nd offense (51.6), 30th defense (51.9)
Arizona can’t be that bad……can they? Remember that these numbers are based on two games, including one matchup that was probably the Cardinals hardest game of the year at the L.A. Rams. So don’t read too much into these stats. However, where there’s smoke there’s fire and this Cardinals team looks like they’re searching for a bird bath in the middle of the desert.
So far Cards QB Sam Bradford is throwing for only 114 yards per game with 0 TD’s and 2 INT’s. Their star RB David Johnson has only 85 yards on 22 carries (3.9 avg) and the Cards lone score of the season. These guys have 6 points through 2 games!
Watch Out For………
Bears WR corps – How will the playing time and targets be divvied up this Sunday? Will the coaches decide to get the forgotten #11 Kevin White out there? Will he get his first reception of the year? Will he even be targeted? What about #12 Allen Robinson, #18 Taylor Gabriel and #17 Anthony Miller? Can they build on their solid performance against Seattle?
Week 3 Prediction:
I’m worried about this game. The Bears finally have some positive momentum going and a chance to be a factor for the first time in years. Coming off of their big home victory on national TV, there is a chance for a letdown. It’s a short week for Chicago and I hope they don’t take the Cardinals too lightly.
However, the Bears are simply a much better team than Arizona. Last year, Sam Bradford was with Minnesota in the Week 5 MNF game at Soldier Field. You probably remember, it was Mitch Trubisky’s debut as the Bears starting QB. Chicago’s D dominated Bradford and the Vikes’ poor offensive line, recording 4 sacks prior to being replaced by Case Keenum. In fact, Bradford was such a stationary target that he only passed 5 of 11 times with those 4 sacks before being replaced.
Then Trubisky threw a late interception to Harrison Smith and the Vikings won 20-17. Anyway, the point is that Bradford looked weak and the Bears did really well against him. Expect it again on Sunday, this time with Bradford wearing a different uniform that will get mighty dirty with grass stains.
Chicago is favored by 6 points according to Wednesday’s Chicago Tribune. Even though I’m a bit worried, I’ll take the Bears both S/U and ATS.
Chicago Bears 23, Arizona Cardinals 13
Enjoy the game and we’ll see you next week!