SJ-Bears-2009

Week 3 Preview – St Louis Rams vs Chicago Bears

The Rams have a big test this Sunday. They are going into Soldier field to face a wounded animal, literally. The Bears generally, and Jay Cutler specifically, are emotionally wounded from their performance on national TV last Thursday. They are physically wounded as their best offensive player (Matt Forte) and best defensive player (Julius Peppers) missed practice on Wed.  Peppers returned on Thursday, but Urlacher sat out.

As most football fans know, Brian Urlacher is playing on a diminished left knee. We know of one surgery on the knee during the preseason, and John Mullen of CSNChicago.com reported two earlier surgeries on the same knee.

The Bears are back in their cave, need a win, and news has spread through the league about the new bad boy Rams. The Bears have no reason to take these Rams lightly.  Here are the factors that I believe will lead to a Rams’ victory:

1. STEADY EDDY

The Bears with Jay Cutler were 5-1 at home last year. Since 2009, the Cutler led Bears are 15-7 at home. Unfortunately, Mr. Cutler has a new weapon in Brandon Marshall, so what can the Rams do? Well, they can’t do what they did last week. They can’t fumble on the first play to allow a defensive touchdown. They can’t fall behind 21-6. Instead, the Rams need to be Steady Eddy, especially in the first quarter.

If the Bears score an offensive touchdown, fine, come back and put some points on the scoreboard. If you are getting pressure on defense, but no sacks, keep coming. On offense, stick with the short passing game that worked wonderfully in the Redskins game. As the game proceeds, the home field advantage will be minimized if the Rams are sticking around. If this game is won by the Rams, it will be won in the fourth quarter.

2. PRESSURE, PRESSURE, PRESSURE

The Rams must put pressure on Jay Cutler.  According to statistics compiled by Pro Football Focus, Jay Cutler is a dramatically different player when he is hearing footsteps (see charts below).  If you combine the stats from 2011 with the two games in 2012, Jay Cutler has thrown 248 passes without any pressure.  He completed 146 of those passes (59%) for 1792 yards, 13 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.  Under pressure, Cutler has thrown 128 passes.  He completed 68 of those passes (53%) for 986 yards, 3 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.  By definition, all sacks were a result of drop backs under pressure and Jay Cutler was sacked 32 times in 165 drop backs.

In game 1, the Rams had trouble getting pressure because they were so concerned about Megatron. If game 2, the Rams had to worry about RGIII’s mobility. The Bears and Cutler offer neither of these hazards.  I want to see multiple blitzes and consistent pressure. If you pressure Cutler, he will wilt. I am looking for at least four sacks in this game.

Chicago Bears – Cumulative Passing under pressure (2012)

Pressure

Drop-backs

Runs

Att.

Com.

Com. %

Yds

Yds / Att.

TD

INT

Sk

NFL QB Rating

Pff.com Rating

No pressure

40

1

39

23

59.0

292

7.5

3

2

0

86.7

2.7

Plays under pressure

32

0

23

9

39.1

167

7.3

0

3

9

25.4

-3.0

When not blitzed

36

1

32

16

50.0

228

7.1

1

2

3

57.8

1.4

When blitzed

36

0

30

16

53.3

231

7.7

2

3

6

61.2

-1.6

All Plays

72

1

62

32

51.6

459

7.4

3

5

9

58.5

-0.3

Chicago Bears – Cumulative Passing under pressure (2011)

Pressure

Drop-backs

Runs

Att.

Com.

Com. %

Yds

Yds / Att.

TD

INT

Sk

NFL QB Rating

Pff.com Rating

No pressure

212

3

209

123

58.9

1500

7.2

10

5

0

87.0

6.9

Plays under pressure

133

5

105

59

56.2

819

7.8

3

2

23

83.0

0.4

When not blitzed

216

8

196

120

61.2

1445

7.4

8

2

12

93.2

8.7

When blitzed

129

0

118

62

52.5

874

7.4

5

5

11

73.2

-1.4

All Plays

345

8

314

182

58.0

2319

7.4

13

7

23

85.7

7.3


3. FOCUS ON 54

Urlacher has admitted that his knee will never be the same. Let’s test where it is now. Official stats show he had 8 tackles last week. Coaching numbers suggest he had 11 tackles. You could say these tackles show he had a good game. I say, look closer. Green Bay focused on the attacking Urlacher. The runningbacks and tightends caught 12 passes. The wide receivers only caught 10. For this game, I want to see at least 10 passes to our running backs and tight ends. I want to see Urlacher having to run all over the field. Prediction – I expect to see more of Isaiah Pead in this game (if Jackson sits).

4. TWO TIGHTENDS

Unfortunately, we still have issues on our line, and we are facing one of the best passing rushing defensive ends in the last 10 years. While I want to attack Urlacher, I also believe we need a tight end back on the line to help with pass protection. The obvious conclusion is we need frequent two tight end sets. After last week’s performance by Bradford, the Bears will focus on trying to get quick pressure on him.  Therefore, I hope to see an offensive game plan that shows protection is a priority.

5. STEADY EDDY 2

We need to see more of the same from Bradford. Last week was a shining example of what Bradford does well. With three/five step drops and quick throws, Bradford is at his best. With seven step drops and a requirement that he review his options all over the field, he is at his worst. This does not mean that we can’t throw a deep ball every once in a while. Instead, it means the deep ball needs to be based on trust because it has to be thrown rather early in the pattern.

I expect that most of our touchdowns will come from 7-12 play drives, as opposed to 2-5 play drives. I am fine with that. Keep moving the chains. Keep moving the chains.  I am also not opposed to field goals. Steady Eddy has to get points to be there in the fourth quarter.

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