Joniak: Keys To Bears-Lions

The Bears (3-5) host the Lions (3-4-1) at Soldier Field on Sunday.

Jeff Joniak
November 08, 2019 - 2:59 pm
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LAKE FOREST (WBBM Newsradio) -- The Bears (3-5) host the Lions (3-4-1) at Soldier Field on Sunday. The game can be heard on WBBM Newsradio 780.

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Here are my keys to the game.

Offense

--The most important key to this game, in my opinion, is for this team to have fun again. Simple as that.

--Of the eight offensive touchdowns scored by the Bears during their four-game losing streak, remarkably none came in the first half. A quick start leading to points is a Matt Nagy mandate right now.

--Detroit is one of three teams in the league to enjoy the lead in every game this season. The Bears must beat them to the punch.

--Scratching out 300 yards of offense only once in the first half of the season, the Bears should have opportunities to land some big blows on a Lions defense unable to limit eight teams to less than 350 yards of offense. 

--Striking a balance in the offense goes beyond the run-pass ratio. The passing game needs to find more balance in targets and production to this point leaning heavily in favor of just receiver Allen Robinson.

--The math does not add up when breaking down the Lions defense. Ranked poorly in nearly every major category from points allowed, yardage, third down, sacks, and red zone efficiency, they have talented defenders at every level of the unit.

--Trubisky and the rest of the offense must protect the ball. Detroit only has 10 interceptions over the last 26 games under coordinator Paul Pasqualoni but rank eighth in the league with 41 pass breakups. Detroit shares the league lead with 17 forced fumbles, and is tied for second in the league with nine fumble recoveries.

Defense

--Pressuring Matthew Stafford is crucial for the Bears defense. He comes in hot. Thriving in coordinator Darrell Bevell’s offense, Stafford is dropping dimes. In many games, he has clear and wide throwing lanes with time for deep routes to develop. The Bears pass rush has to muddy his vision and move him off his spot in the pocket.

--Stafford has dropped to throw 309 times in eight games, sacked 18 times, and hurried an NFL-high 119 times, according to Stats, Inc. Stafford is still able to complete 23 passes of 25 yards or more, which is tied for second most in the league, with Seattle’s Russell Wilson.

--The Bears need takeaways. The formula for winning the way the Bears are used to starts with turning teams over, taking away possessions and creating field position for the offense. Stafford has thrown only five interceptions. He has five fumbles, losing only three. The Bears need to create their own breaks to help their cause.

--The Bears typically do not give up big plays, and Stafford will test that fact. He takes shots. Belief in his arm and trust in St. Rita’s Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones, Jr. to win a high percentage of contested throws is Stafford’s bread and butter. It is a big test for the entire Bears secondary to win the battles at the catch point. Stafford’s yards at the catch is significantly larger than the receiver’s yards after the catch. This includes the tight end position. The Bears will have their hands full.

Special teams

--We have said it before, and we will say it again. For a team looking for any kind of spark or momentum tug, the special teams unit must not dig any holes. The units must play smart.

--Coverage units for both teams are on high alert. Cordarrelle Patterson of the Bears and Jamal Agnew of the Lions have combined for 761 yards on 26 returns and 2 kickoff touchdowns. In cold weather, the ball is not likely to travel as far, so both will have the green light.

Intangibles

--The Bears continue to believe in each other. Backed up against the wall and cornered, we will learn more about their collective fight and resolve on their home turf. Listen to the crowd. They will provide the soundtrack for the day. 

Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.