Bears-Steelers: Week Two
The Bears offense needs to get the run game established before airing it out with Jay Cutler. Matt Forte, and now Garrett Wolfe, will have to get off to fast starts to ignite a Bears offense that had almost nothing going for it against the Packers.
The absence of Troy Polamalu hurts Pittsburgh as much as the Bears' loss of Brian Urlahcer. He’s big, physical, and, above all, very smart.
The Pittsburgh run defense will suffer most from his absence.
Beating the Pittsburgh defense is all about creating misdirection. Bootlegs, end-arounds, and screen passes are the types of plays that will allow the Bears to redeem themselves after a dismal debut.
Against a good pass rush, veteran Orlando Pace looked pretty good and kept Aaron Kampman quiet for most of the game. He’ll have yet another challenge when he has to watch out for a blitzing James Harrison.
The rest of the Steeler linebacking corps is among the best in the league and will pose problems for the Bears' young wide receivers. I still like Greg Olsen matching up against any linebacker, so hopefully Cutler dials him up more than he did in Week One.
One of the few positions the Bears have serious depth in is at linebacker. Hillenmeyer was a starter during the seasons the Bears defense was ranked top-five, and there are several other backups that have potential to start for other teams.
Nick Roach and Jamar Williams will now have the opportunity to show fans, and other teams, what they're made of.
I have to admit that seeing the Bears' defensive line get pressure on Aaron Rodgers was exciting. The Steelers have had protection problems for a few seasons now, so getting to Ben Roethlisberger will bode well for the Bears.
Roethlisberger has an uncanny ability to sit in the pocket and work the secondary with his body movement. The Bears defensive ends have to be fast, persistent, and remember to wrap up both of Roethlisberger’s arms to make sure he can’t make big passes.
Pittsburgh’s biggest weakness is their offensive line. They looked over matched against the Albert Haynesworth-less Titans and couldn’t establish the run.
Injuries have slowed Willie Parker, and former Illinois standout Rashard Mendenhall hasn’t been able to establish himself in the Steelers' running game.
The lack of a running game really puts Ben Roethlisberger on an island in the pocket and is one of the reasons he holds the football for so long, trying to make a play.
Getting a hand on the big QB isn’t enough. The Bears need to wrap him up and take him to the turf hard, or else he just isn’t going down.
Daniel Manning showed good technique and some of what it will take to sack Roethlisberger when he caught Aaron Rodgers in the end zone for a safety.
Hines Ward looked sick after fumbling the ball and allowing the Titans to force overtime. Always the professional, I’m sure Ward can’t wait to get back on the field, especially after watching how Greg Jennings torched the Bears secondary in Week One.
The offensive weapon to keep an eye is in Santonio Holmes. Since his game-winning catch in last season's Super Bowl, he looks to have made that leap into the upper tier of NFL wide receivers.
If Charles Tillman is healthy, he should slow down the emerging Holmes.
Players to Watch
Hunter Hillenmeyer: He’s got big shoes to fill, but seeing his ability over his tenure as a Bear, he should be fine over the middle.
Matt Forte: There wasn’t much against the Packers and he can expect even less against the Steelers. Forte’s impact will most likely be felt in the flat and lining up in the slot.
Jay Cutler: An extended film session with Cutler and all his offensive targets should be the main focus of the Bears' offense. No amount of preseason or training camp can get receivers in sync with the quarterback like a regular season game.
Key to the Game
Turnovers. Forcing them and avoiding them will be paramount if the Bears have a chance to beat the defending champions.
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