I have to admit, this upcoming game against the St Louis Rams looked a whole lot easier before the season started. Maybe it’s that the Bears looked so bad against the Packers last week or maybe that the Rams have been a little better than expected in their first two games, but either way, I don’t think this will be the laugher I first projected.
On offense, the Rams are led by third year quarterback Sam Bradford, who struggled with injuries and a lack or weapons last season. Sound familiar? The Rams thought enough of Bradford to trade away the #2 of the 2012 draft, which turned out to be Heisman winning quarterback Robert Griffin III. Old faithful Steven Jackson is nursing a bad hamstring and will be a game time decision, so the Rams may have to rely on the aerial attack of Bradford and Danny Amendola, who hooked up for 15 catches last week.
On defense, the Rams have a couple of plus pass rushers in Robert Quinn and Chris Long and a couple of good cornerbacks in Cortland Finnegan and rookie Janoris Jenkins. They’ll get after Cutler and try to take away Brandon Marshall. Head coach Jeff Fisher has this young group motivated and ready to play.
The Bears struggled last week against the Packers after looking like world beaters against the Indianapolis Colts. I’d say the Rams fall safely somewhere in between the two. What do the Bears need to do to earn their second win of the season? Here are my Keys to Victory:
I was gonna drop this little YouTube clip from an old Seinfeld episode on you as my message to Jay Cutler – poise counts! – but the embedding is disabled, so you’ll have to click here to watch it. It’s where Kramer’s coaching a beauty pageant contestant on the finer points of poise in the importance of winning. Mr Cutler, are you listening? Keep your composure and take your own advice and “get your F’ing head in the game” as you told J’Webb vs the Packers.
Let’s See Some Bush
With Matt Forte declared OUT vs the Rams, we’ll get to see plenty of Michael Bush. The Bears invested big free agent dollars in a backup running back, so now’s the time that investment starts to pay dividends. The best way to take the heat off Cutler and slow down a pass rush is to run the damn ball. I expect to see good doses of Bush with Kahlil Bell and Armando Allen coming in to spell him from time to time. Bush told us before the season that he was more than a battering ram, let’s hope this week, he batters some Rams.
The Marshall Plan
When the Packers decided to use a 2-Man coverage (man coverage underneath with two safeties to help over the top), the Bears acted like they’d never seen it before. With the sad sack of wide receivers they’ve had in season past, maybe they hadn’t? The point is, if the Rams take Jay Cutler’s favorite target away with bracket coverage or just tight man coverage with Cortland Finnegan, Mike Tice and the Bears need to have a plan. Whether it’s running the ball, dusting off their tight ends or just running some route combinations to get Earl Bennett and Devin Hester loose in the slot, they can’t go into their shell if Option #1 gets taken away.
Before the start of the season, everyone believed that this season the offense would step to the forefront as the aging defense started to fade. That can’t be the case. The Bears still need to rely on old faithful, Lovie’s Cover-2 defense, to get the job done and win games. The Rams will try to get the ball in Danny Amendola’s hands, but he’s not necessarily a home run hitter; he’s more of a Wes Welker type. The Bears will likely let him get the underneath stuff, but need to rally to the ball and tackle him to keep gains to a minimum. A Peanut Tillman ball punch could come in handy too.
Pressure from the Front 4 will be key to force Bradford, who comes in with an impressive 112.4 passer rating, into making some mistakes. He’s played well so far this season against the Lions and Redskins, but let’s see how he handles Julius Peppers and Co.
Many Happy Returns
It’s rare to see a Dave Toub special teams unit get pantsed like they did last week against the Packers on the fake field goal that went for a touchdown. I expect the Bears to be extra sharp on special teams this week. Devin Hester has a good history against the Rams, including a couple of return touchdowns. It would be great to see Soldier Field rocking with a Hester return TD, but good field position will be a big help to take some pressure off Cutler and the offense.
What do you think? What are your keys to victory? Let’s hear your thoughts in the Comments.
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