Will Chicago Bears be one-dimensional vs Bucs?
The Chicago Bears are going to have a hard time establishing a ground game
One of the biggest notes from the Chicago Bears 3-0 start was their change in run game philosophy. The running scheme brought in by Juan Castillo played more to the strengths of the offensive line personnel. Beyond that, Matt Nagy showed a commitment to running the ball that he had not shown in previous seasons.
Of course, in typical Matt Nagy-Chicago Bears fashion, the first sign of trouble saw the run game bailed on. The Indianapolis Colts defensive line beat the Chicago Bears offensive line up and down all game long.
The Bears tried to pull and get their blockers in space, but they were laid out and physically beaten before even getting the chance. This resulted in plays blown up in the backfield, and ultimately, 10 rushes for 27 yards from David Montgomery.
The Bears would surely love to bounce back from a miserable ground game and get right back to setting up a run game. Unfortunately, that seems very unlikely to happen vs. Tampa Bay.
The Bucs defense has slowly emerged as one of the best in the NFL. Last year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ranked number one in rushing efficiency, and yards allowed and no one was particularly close.
That trend stayed from year to year, as well. While the Bucs rank second in rushing efficiency, they lead the league in yards per rush allowed. The Bucs allow just 2.7 yards per rush, which just so happens to be Montgomery’s average against the Colts.
The Bucs rank 9th in power rate, and fifth in stuffed rate, showing that short-yardage is not easy. However, more impressive is their ranking of first in both open field yards and second-level yards. Runs do not break into the next level against Tampa Bay.
On paper, this is no surprise. The Buccaneers spent a top ten pick on Vita Vea, who is a house in the middle of their defense. He is an immovable object. It does not hurt to have Ndamukong Suh right next to that mammoth of a human. That is the league’s best run-stuffing duo.
However, what brings it all home is Devin White. White can be attacked in coverage, but he went fifth overall for a reason. He is a tone-setter, and he flies all over the field making huge plays in the run game. He controls sideline to sideline and is the reason that open field yards do not come against Tampa Bay.
The Bucs spent big money on Suh and big picks on Vea and White. They are getting what they paid for.
These are not just the scrubs of the NFL, either. Tampa Bay has faced Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara already. The Bears have been known to abandon the run game when things get tough.
On Thursday, Matt Nagy may not even wait for things to get tough. After seeing what happened against the Colts, and knowing the Bucs reputation the past two years, establishing the run is a terrible game plan for Thursday.
If the Bears want to beat Tampa, they have to come out throwing and cannot waste plays setting up a non-existent ground game. This will frustrate fans and will have them claiming Nagy has reverted to his old ways. However, the Bucs defense is likely forcing him to avoid the run game on Thursday.