Snake-bitten?? Injuries continue to plague Bears

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 10: Jerrell Freeman
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 10: Jerrell Freeman /

Snake-bitten??? The Chicago Bears lost 2 starters to injuries Sunday.  Both Kevin White and Jerrell Freeman suffered season-ending injuries in the Bears first game of 2017. Injuries decimated the team last year and now are a plague to 2017.

When first hearing the news that ILB Jerrell Freeman suffered a season-ending injury in the Bears first game, it hit like a ton of bricks.  Freeman led the team in tackles in the Bears 23-17 loss to the defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons on opening day. He was on the field for the Falcons last drive of the game.  Freeman’s injury, a torn pectoral muscle happened on the first play of the game.

Kevin White suffered a broken clavicle in Sunday's loss to Atlanta
CHICAGO, IL – SEPTEMBER 10: Kevin White’s season ended before it had a chance to begin. /

Star-crossed WR Kevin White will again sit out the entire season after he sustained a broken clavicle on just his second reception of the season.  White has only played 3 full games and parts of two others in his 3-year career in Chicago.  Coupled with the torn ACL that ended WR Cam Meredith’s year during the preseason, the offense is dreadfully thin at the WR position.

GM Ryan Pace has tried to build depth, something the roster lacked before Pace was hired.  Defensively, last year’s 4th round draft choice, Nick Kwiatkowski must now step in the fill the void at ILB.  Kwiatkowski played well during the preseason while Danny Trevathan was inactive due to his continued recuperation from an injury last November that ended his first season with Chicago.

Offensively, the injury to Cam Meredith and White has left the Bears with question marks at receiver.  Rookie free agent Tanner Gentry was elevated from the practice squad and will most likely see his first action Sunday, when the Bears travel to Tampa.

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This week’s opponent

For the third straight season, Chicago visits Tampa.  The Buccaneers open their season this week after Hurricane Irma force the postponement of their game scheduled in Miami on opening day.

In 2015, the Bears travelled to Tampa and defeated Tampa 26-21. Last year, Tampa outclassed the Bears 36-15.  The Bears’ Kyle Long was injured during this game and hasn’t played one snap since breaking his ankle during last season’s loss.

Keys to victory

The Bears need to finish on defense.  Last year, QB Jameis Winston burned the defense with his elusiveness.  Winston should give the Bears opportunities to create turnovers.  He threw 18 interceptions.  Look for the Bears to use a lot of man coverage and bring pressure off the edge.

Offensively the Bears need to open the playbook.  QB Mike Glennon must make quicker reads and get rid of the ball faster.  Expect to see heavy doses of both Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen.  Tampa will load the box and dare Glennon to pass, in an effort to stymie the Bears two-headed rushing attack.  Look for OC Dowell Loggains to call a long pass play early.  Even if the play doesn’t hit, it forces the Bucs to honor the passing game, making the running attack more effective.

Chicago cannot simply try to manage the clock, they need to score points, and score early.

Injuries plagued this team last year, but there is more depth on the roster, especially on defense.  If the season-ending injury bug can be avoided this week, Chicago can come home 1-1.  The Bears have not been at .500 at anytime during the regular season since 2014, when they began the season 3-3.