Joniak: Keys To Bears-Broncos

Jeff Joniak
September 14, 2019 - 12:01 pm
Bears coach Matt Nagy

USA Today Sports

Categories: 

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Can the Bears bounce back after their season-opening loss to the Packers?  Jeff Joniak offers his keys to the game as the Bears get ready to face off against the Denver Broncos Sunday.

Kickoff is set for 3:25 p.m. Catch the game and pregame coverage on air on WBBM Newsradio 780 and 105.9 FM. You can also listen on desktop computers. 

Offense

  • Looking to see the Bears offense bounce back and do everything it didn’t in the opener against a defense that knows the scheme as well as anyone because of Vic Fangio.
  • They have to find balance in their attack. Expect more designed runs using rookie David Montgomery, Mike Davis and Tarik Cohen.
  • In two back sets, the Bears earned better than 6 yards per play, nearly doubling the output on the rest of their snaps.
  • They have to perform better on first down to stay ahead of the chains. Last week they averaged 9.27 yards to go on second down. That’s tough duty.
  • Improving on third down will keep drives alive and create the rhythm missing in the opener. It made for a tough and frustrating game for head coach Matt Nagy to call. 
  • Cleaning up the mistakes and getting Mitch Trubisky on the move a bit will smooth out the operation.
  • It is a big game for the offensive line. Pass rushers Von Miller and Bradley Chubb are doubly dangerous at home with the crowd gassing them up. Three things will all help Charles Leno Jr., Bobby Massie and the rest of the unit in protection: forcing them to play the run, quick decisions by Trubisky, and getting rid of the ball quickly.
  • Denver did not hit Raiders quarterback Derek Carr one time, nor pressure him one time. It is the first time Denver did not get any sacks, hits or pressures since 2014.
  • Trubisky is 8-and-1 following games with a quarterback rating of 77.2 or lower. He finished 62.1 against Green Bay.

Defense

  • A ferocious start by the front seven set the tone last week, and the defense hopes to accomplish the same momentum against the Broncos -- and this time take the ball away.
  • The Denver offense is in the same Mike Shanahan tree that is being used in Los Angeles with the Rams, in San Francisco with the 49ers, and now with the Packers in Green Bay. The Bears excel at stopping the run, and they will have to get down to business in Denver against Pro Bowler Phillip Lindsay, who averaged 5.4 a carry last season, and against fellow second-year back Royce Freeman, the bigger of the two. They heated up in the second half in Oakland.
  • Veteran Joe Flacco was sacked three times Monday night in Oakland, and the Bears know exactly where he is in the pocket. He is protected by penalty-ridden left tackle Garrett Bolles and injury replacement Elijah Wilkinson at right tackle. The Bears pass rush should be tough to deal with for the Broncos.
  • Kahlil Mack had one of his best games ever in Denver December 13, 2015 as a Raider. His stat line included five sacks, seven hits on the quarterback and a forced fumble. Unleash the beast!   

Special Teams

  • Eddy Pineiro is intrigued. The thin air of Denver is enticing for every kicker. He will be someone to study during pregame warm-ups. Decisions on distance will not be an issue in Denver. He has a big leg and great range.
  • Denver special teams coordinator Tom McMahon is completely comfortable with his kicker Brandon McManus.  He made three field goals, but missed a 64-yard attempt before the half, just short. McManus did miss eight kicks in 2017 and on average has missed 5.6 attempts per season.
  • The Bears are hoping to unlock the return potential of Tarik Cohen on punts and Cordarrelle Patterson on kickoffs. Denver’s coverage unit sprung a leak on a 72-yard kickoff return by Oakland’s Dwayne Harris Monday night. It is something to watch in this matchup.

Intangibles

  • Denver’s record in September at home is crazy. In the last decade, they were tied with New England for the fewest losses in the month. They are 22-and-1 at home in the first two weeks of the season since 2000. Even though every team is different annually, that is some serious Bronco success that has carried through for years.