The Bears open the 2011 season at long last, hosting the Atlanta Falcons. It’s sure to be a memorable day at Soldier Field. If you’re going to the game, be sure to get there plenty early. I’m sure that security will be tight on the anniversary of 9/11, but the pre-game ceremonies and anthem by Blackhawks anthem singer Jim Cornelison will be spectacular. Here are my keys to the game:
Protect the Edges
Gabe Carimi and J’Marcus Webb will have their hands full with Ray Edwards and John Abraham. If they can stand up to this tall task, it could be a key to keeping Jay Cutler upright and giving him time to attack a questionable Falcons secondary. If Jay can just get a little time, he could have some opportunities for big plays.
Attack the Middle
The Falcons will have a couple of new faces on the interior of their offensive line. It’s up to the Bears DT’s to get pressure right up the middle to flush Matt Ryan and get the ball out of his hands before he’d like to. I’d like to see some twists and stunts to confuse the Falcons line and try to get their more accomplished pass rushers like Peppers and Idonije some mismatches.
Help the Little Guys
The matchups that scare me most for the Bears defense are rookie wideout Julio Jones vs Tim Jennings and veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez against either nickelback DJ Moore or linebacker Nick Roach. Bears safeties Chris Harris and Major Wright need to be on point with their assignments to offer help on those matchups.
Special Teams has been shaky this preseason. Add to that the uncertainty of the impact of the new kickoff rules and the most important phase of the Bears team. The Bears need their special teams to be special to take pressure of the maturing offense and let the defense attack instead of playing back on their heels.
Let’s batten down the hatches and get ready for an exciting season. If you watched the Thursday night NFL Kickoff game, you saw the impressive offenses of the Bears’ next two opponents, making the opener against the Falcons that much more important.
I’ll be at the game tomorrow, so stop by section 434 and say “hi!” If you want to keep up with updates throughout the day, I’ll be tweeting from the game. Follow me, won’t you?