Chicago Bears Early Look Week 12: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Nov 16, 2014; Landover, MD, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) catches the ball ahead of Washington Redskins cornerback Tracy Porter (22) in the second quarter at FedEx Field. The Buccaneers won 27-7. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Overview: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are coming to town this week for a matchup between two teams with very little to play for other than pride. Standing at 2-8, Lovie Smith’s tenure as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers isn’t going exactly as planned. Even the defense, the part of the game that Lovie is most well-known for, hasn’t been up to the task so far this season, ranking a mere 27th in total yards allowed. Their offense hasn’t been any better, slipping one more spot to 28th in the league. While those numbers might lead you to think that this game will be an easy win for the Bears, I would caution against that. Tampa just got done stomping the Washington Redskins 27-7 for their second win of the season, and the way the Bears have been playing, I don’t think any team should be taken lightly.
Injuries: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have their fair share of nicks and bruises going on right now, but only a couple of real injuries to note. Running back Doug Martin being first on the list. Martin has missed three straight games with an ankle injury, and rookie Charles Sims has struggled to replace him. Sims managed only 36 yards on 13 carries with a long of 12 yards against last week against the Redskins. Even if Martin plays, he’s likely to be at less than full strength. The other injury of note is to Tampa’s top cornerback Alterraun Verner. Verner is by no means an elite player, but going against the likes of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery without your top cover man is definitely less than ideal for the Bucs. Verner has been out the past two weeks with a hamstring injury.
Key Matchups: Be sure to keep an eye or two outside the numbers this week, as both teams’ wide receivers are likely to have a large impact on the outcome of this game. The Bears’ vertical passing attack has been woefully nonexistent so far this season, though it did show some signs of life last week against the Vikings. This game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, especially if the aforementioned Alterraun Verner is out, could be an excellent chance for the Bears to get that aspect of their game back on track. On the other side, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a very similar receiving core to the Bears with a pair of wide outs in Vincent Jackson and rookie Mike Evans both standing at 6-5. Definitely watch out for Evans who has 458 yards and 5 touchdowns in the last three games, and put up 209 yards and 2 TDs on Washington last week. He’s looking like he could be something special. The fact that one of these monstrous pass catchers will have to be covered by 5-8 Tim Jennings has me more than a little bit worried.
The Way I See It: This should be an easy win for the Bears. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a rebuilding team that are struggling to find an identity, but the Bears haven’t shown me enough this season to feel any sort of confidence. Identity struggles are something that Bears fans have become accustomed to over the past couple of years, and there are ample reasons to argue that the Bears should be in rebuilding mode as well. The Bears are more than likely out of the playoff race, but I’m still intrigued to see how this season plays out. Does Marc Trestman deserve to be fired after just two seasons as a head coach? Do the Bears have the roster to consistently win games moving forward, or do they need to jettison a large portion of their team and start over from scratch? There are still a lot of questions to be answered in the last 6 games of this season.
What do you guys think? Let me know in the Comments…