Fresh off a dominant defensive performance against the Seattle Seahawks, the 2018 Chicago Bears are set to square off with the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday. The Bears have momentum on their side as they travel to the desert, something that has been a rarity in years’ past. This time they have a good opportunity to capitalize on a reeling team.
The defense has another chance to dominate
The Bears took advantage of a dreadful Seahawks offensive line en route to a six-sack performance. Russell Wilson was completely unable to get into a groove, and the offense was anemic as a result. This week presents a similar situation, but with a quarterback significantly less mobile. Unlike Russell Wilson, Sam Bradford has never been known as a quarterback who can make plays with his feet or escape trouble with his athleticism. The Cardinals’ offensive line is not the Seahawks, but it’s hardly the Packers either, a team the Bears had four sacks against. Bradford doesn’t move nearly as well as Wilson or Aaron Rodgers, so the Bears should have ample opportunity to add to their NFL-leading ten sacks.
In general, the Cardinals have played very poor offense the first two weeks of the 2018 season. They put up a measly six points against Washington, and were shut out by the Los Angeles Rams. David Johnson has yet to be properly used for the Cardinals, and their receiving corps leaves a lot to be desired, even with Larry Fitzgerald. The Bears’ defense can carry the team once again and make life easy on their own offense, something helpful for a quarterback who is still developing.
The Cardinals present a great chance for the offense
The Cardinals’ defense has simply been bad this year. They have given up the third most yards in the NFL and the sixth most passing yards. The Rams’ explosive offense hung 33 points on them. Likewise the Bears’ offense should be able to put points on the board. Arizona has lost several playmakers’ of years past, but Patrick Peterson, a budding Budda Baker and Antoine Bathea create a respectable secondary. Chandler Jones led the NFL in sacks a year ago, but he is off to a slow start after the Cardinals’ switch to a 4-3. The Cardinals defense is vulnerable, especially with a scheme switch, as players like Robert Nkemdiche and Haason Reddick still finding their footing in the NFL.
Mitch Trubisky discussed the Cardinals’ defense, saying, “I don’t look too deep into how many yards or how many points they have given up, cause I know they’re a really good defense. They got a lot of really good players and they have a good scheme… I think teams have ran the ball on them pretty well and have moved the chains and find ways to get points.”
However, the Bears’ offense has also struggled to get going as they grow within a new scheme. Nagy has done a great job of dialing up easy throws for Trubisky and has relied heavily on drives with a dink-and-dunk style offense. The expectations for him may be a little unfair in his first season with this scheme, but Sunday provides an opportunity to see just how explosive the offense can be. In the words of his coach, “His eyes are going to the right spots and he’s understanding, you know, what to do with the ball.” He added, “Right now, the biggest thing for him is just, I just want him to be able to play fast and trust where he’s going with the football.” The Bears’ defense is good enough to give the offense the time it needs to develop in the system, but Sunday presents a potential catalyst for moving forward.
Jordan Howard’s involvement
Jordan Howard has been on the field a lot for the Bears, but both the Seahawks and Packers seemed to emphasize taking him out of the offense. He was especially keyed in on by the Seahawks, and that resulted in 15 carries for 34 yards. The Cardinals have allowed 272 rushing yards through two games, ranking 28th in the NFL. Adrian Peterson rushed for 96 yards and had 70 yards through the air week one. Howard can leave a big impact on this game if takes advantage of a Cardinals defense that has struggled to stop the run, and he could be a big part of Sunday’s game plan.
Twitter: @crbevins11 @radiomogul
Hear audio from Matt Nagy, Mitch Trubisky and Kyle Long