Chicago Bears fans typically don’t circle a preseason game on the calendar; games that don’t matter in the standings aren’t typically must see TV. The game against the New York Giants, however, has taken on a completely different meaning for fans from the Windy City.
This game against the Giants is seen as a barometer of sorts for the progress of the offensive line. It’s no secret that the Giants have a formidable front four. Their speed and explosion off the edge and over the guards are among the best in the NFL.
New York uses four defensive ends to rush the passer, they call this their “four aces package.” This allows them to drop seven into coverage behind it, much like the Bears do.
This package was extremely effective two years ago when the Giants racked up eight sacks in the first half against Jay Cutler. Cutler also went down with a concussion and missed some time as a result.
The gauge for the Bears' pass-blocking progress will be this game against the Giants, but there is a way Chicago can slow down New York's pass rush: run the football.
Running the football to slow down a pass rush may seem like an obvious strategy, but it hasn't been talked about in Bears circles.
Matt Forte and Michael Bush need to be huge in this game against the Giants. There's a reason the Bears signed Bush, and it's for a game just like this against the boys from New York.
According to the FootballOustsiders almanac, the Giants' front four was 20th overall against the run in 2011 while the linebackers ranked 26th.
The strategy to attack them couldn't be more obvious: line up with two tight ends and run the ball downhill. The inside-zone run game will be the key for slowing down the pass rush of the Giants.
The more the Bears are in 3rd-and-short rather than 3rd-and-long, the better off for the offensive line.
Of all the things that went wrong for the O-Line in 2011, the one thing the Bears' offensive line did well enough was run blocking.
Thus far in the preseason, Lance Louis, Chilo Rachal and Gabe Carimi have stood out in run blocking. Rachal is known as a mauler and showed just as much against the Redskins, driving defensive tackles down the field.
Louis has also shown vast improvement from his first two years at right guard. His nasty attitude as a run blocker lined up next to Gabe Carimi could really set the tempo for the Bears in this game.
Bears' offensive coordinator Mike Tice highlighted Louis' play after the line struggled in the opener against the Broncos. Louis put forth a second consecutive solid effort against the Redskins and will hopefully make it three in a row against the Giants.
Spencer improved from the first preseason game to the second, but is still even with Rachal for the starting left guard spot. Depending on his performance in this game, I could see him earning the starting spot for the season if he plays up to expectation.
Tice stated that the Bears will start with J'Marcus Webb and Chris Spencer at LT and then rotate between Chris Williams and Chilo Rachal on the next offensive series. Whichever two players grade out the best in this game will likely wind up the starters in Week 1.