The Chicago Bears are coming off of an incredibly difficult loss to the Dolphins. We can make all the excuses we want, but the fact remains that the Bears did not play well enough to come home victorious. The good news about that is that the Bears, especially on defense, should be embarrassed and hopefully play that way. Against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, they will need every ounce of the anger that they are assuredly feeling after watching that film.
In a surprise (to some), Mitch Trubisky has stacked together 2 good games. Bill Belichick has a way of ruining young quarterbacks, so this will be a huge test for Trubisky. The key will be for Matt Nagy to understand how Andy Reid’s system has been able to beat the Patriots defense over the years and exploit it. If Nagy can call the right game, and Trubisky can execute, this game is certainly not the unwinnable game it appeared when the schedule came out.
Here is my list of players to keep an eye on Sunday afternoon.
Who to Watch
Tarik Cohen: My guess is that the Patriots will try and take away someone and I think the easiest players for them to target are Allen Robinson II and Trey Burton. The Patriots lack speed and athleticism on defense, that should lend itself to the Bears speedsters getting some favorable match-ups. Look for Tarik Cohen to be used a bit more in the running game this week and to get a few chunk plays in doing so.
Taylor Gabriel: The other speedster on the Bears offense is Taylor Gabriel, who is having a very nice season to date. The Patriots are susceptible to pure speed and Gabriel has plenty of that. So far, Gabriel has done most of his damage deep. This could be a situation where we see Gabriel do a little more on crossing routes or other shorter routes that typically lead to a lot of yards after the catch. But don’t sleep on the deep ball either…
Akiem Hicks: The key to attacking Brady and the Patriots offense is pushing the interior of the pocket and getting in his face. If Brady has a pocket to step up into, you might as well pack it in, he will pick you apart. Akiem Hicks is going to have to do 2 things well. First, he needs to collapse the pocket as much as possible. Second, he has to force the blocking scheme to him to allow his teammates to also get push inside. The Patriots lament the loss of Hicks, let’s make this one really hurt.
Roquan Smith: Roquan Smith is pulling a very difficult assignment in this game. He will be tasked with stopping Sony Michel and James White in the running game, then turning around and covering White and Rob Gronkowski in the passing game. I feel for Smith, this is as tall an order as you will find against an NFL team, but he certainly has the talent to do so. Smith played really well last week, he is going to need to be at least that good again on Sunday.
What are your thoughts? Which Bears players are you keeping an eye on this Sunday afternoon against the Patriots?
Stay tuned for my Three Keys to the Game tomorrow morning and in case you missed it, here is my What to Watch For from earlier today.