The Chicago Bears need to dominate both sides of the line of scrimmage
Last week, both the offensive and defensive lines struggled against superior units. The offensive line let up four sacks while the defensive line generated just one. On the offensive side of the ball, the tackles struggled with penalties, while the interior seemed to struggle in general. Braxton Jones and rookie Darnell Wright combined for three false starts, while Jones added two offensive holding penalties. Combining for 45 total penalty yards, the tackles will have to clean up their game against Tampa Bay.
The interior of the offensive line has their work cut out for them this week, as nose tackle Vita Vea leads an experienced defense that carries over six starters from their 2020 Super Bowl squad, including four veterans in the front seven. Vea and linebackers Devin White and Lavonte David are capable of blowing up any play, especially a run, but with head coach Todd Bowles calling the defense, the Bears offense will likely see a number of blitzes throughout the game.
Additionally, the Bears will be without starting guard Nate Davis on Sunday, who is absent due to personal reasons. Second-year guard Ja'Tyre Carter will likely serve as Davis's replacement, but reserve center Dan Feeney could also be called upon as a versatile interior blocker. The Bears will be rolling out their second unique offensive line in just their second game and will have to be a cohesive unit against the Buccaneers, especially Vea, who will likely require double teams consistently throughout the game.
On the defensive side, the front four needs to be able to generate more pressure consistently. Yannick Ngakoue, the most recent addition to the room, was the only player to log a sack, but the defensive line managed just six pressures on Jordan Love's 30 dropbacks. According to PFF, Love's passing rate under pressure was the lowest of any player in Week 1, despite being the least pressured quarterback.
With a talented secondary and a brand new linebacking core, the defense has a lot of help after the first line, but it will be tough for them to cover and fit their gaps if there is confusion up front. Against the Buccaneers, the front four has a good opportunity to improve on their Week 1 performance, but the unit will have to adjust to a new play-caller.
Due to personal reasons, defensive coordinator Alan Williams will not be traveling to Tampa Bay, with head coach Matt Eberflus taking over as the defensive play-caller. Hopefully, all is well with Williams and he will be able to return to the team shortly, but the unusual circumstances provide Eberflus an opportunity to have a tighter grip on the defense and could help the unit take a step forward in Week 2.