Fresh off of last week’s trouncing at the hands of the Detroit Lions, the Chicago Bears will take on their toughest opponent of the year in the New Orleans Saints. The Bears clearly squandered a chance last week to take full control of the NFC North but a win this week would go a long way to move them into contender status. In order to do that the Bears will have to play mistake-free football. This is something that Jay Cutler was unable to do against Detroit; throwing 3 INT and fumbling once.
Let’s take a look at this week’s critical matchups:
Jimmy Graham vs. Bears Secondary
How do you defend a tight end that is built like a linebacker, has speed like a wide receiver, and has hands like a running back? T he Bears are going to try and figure that out on Sunday. Look for Chicago to use a variety of defensive packages to cover the NFC offensive player of the week. Graham is averaging near 17 yards per catch this season and is best Tight End in the game. The myriad of game plans will have the Bears using nickel coverage packages as well as zone to try and off-set the mismatch. Lineback, cornerback, or some combination of the two will be most common to try and defend the all-pro. The best remedy could be putting pressure on Drew Brees so that the ball has to come out quick and the Saints are unable to maximize the size advantage.
Marc Trestman Vs. Rob Ryan
Rob Ryan has done a remarkable job with a New Orleans defense that was the worst defense in the history of the game last season. He calls plays with one word in mind: Confusion. His plan is to try and confuse the opposing quarterback into thinking that pressure is coming from all over but then drop back into coverage while getting pressure from the front four. They also mix in a little of a 3-4 scheme that the bears handled well in Pittsburgh but has traditionally been a Jay Cutler sore spot. This is a huge game for Marc Trestman. He experienced defeat for the first time and now other NFL teams are starting to get tape on him. The Lions looked like they knew exactly what the Bears offense was going to do before they did it. It is time for Trestman to make those weekly adjustments and add new wrinkles to the offense. Does he have it? We will see Sunday.
Jay Cutler vs. Drew Brees
OK, so I know they don’t actually line-up against each other but this is a HUGE game for Cutler. We saw the old Jay gunslinging the ball around last week and falling into Detroit’s traps. He will have to be near perfect in order to keep the Bears in the game. The reason? He is going about against one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in Brees. Peyton Manning is probably better but Brees is in the picture along with Tom Brady. Cutler can’t afford to have one of his classic mistake filled games. This is the time to show that he is an elite Quarterback on par with the big time players in the NFL. I believe this will be a critical game in judging whether or not the Bears reward Cutler with that extension next year or not. Brees is the model franchise QB and exactly what Chicago wants in Cutler. This has the makings of a classic matchup if you like great Quarterback play.
Win the matchups and win the game. This is a very winnable game for the Bears. Fundamentals are important on both side of the ball especially tackling for the defense. Last week was sloppy and if the effort repeats itself it will be a long day. Injury wise, the Bears will continue to monitor the Charles Tillman situation but he looks like he is a go.
It should be a great Sunday.
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