Bears-Cardinals Week Nine Preview: Chicago Looks to Slow Arizona's Pass Attack
The stats will say that last week against the Browns the Bears rushed for over 100 yards. It’s a deceiving stat that doesn’t show how the offensive line was shoddy against a poor Browns defense.
The broken record will continue unless the big guys on the line play better. It’s panic time now because they can’t even protect Jay Cutler any more.
The Bear backs and receivers will have to get open in a hurry against an inconsistent at best Cardinal defense.
Matt Forte out of the backfield into the flat should net big yardage if the Bears can sell the play-action.
Additionally, look for the Bears' tight ends to have big games, hopefully elevating the Bears' red zone percentage.
The offense needs to stop with the quick throws behind the line of scrimmage and focus on getting the ball downfield.
Opposing defenses have been able to get pressure with just four down linemen, which leaves seven others to swarm the wide receivers.
Short passes four and five yards down the field will help to make up for the poor offensive line play.
Kurt Warner has as many touchdowns as interceptions (11) and has had trouble remaining consistent this season. Mixing up the coverage packages and disguising blitzes should throw him off guard.
If history is any sort of lesson, it’s that if Warner sees the blitz coming, he’s one of the best at beating it.
The Bears' safeties will have to play extra physical to punish the Cardinal wide receivers going across the middle to give some help to the corners.
Cardinal head coach Ken Whisenhunt doesn’t seem to be sold on either of his young running backs, Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells, although Hightower does have five rushing touchdowns this season.
Stopping the passing attack should be the Bears' top priority, but don’t be surprised if Arizona wants to run the ball, especially early in the game.
If you look at the Cardinals' record last season (including playoffs and Super Bowl) and their record thus far this season, they are 16-11.
What this means is that while they possess explosive weapons on offense, they are far from unbeatable.
How the Bears will fare depends on which Cardinal team shows up Sunday: the team with the explosive offense that led them through last season’s playoffs, or the team that’s prone to turnovers and only a few games over .500 over the last two seasons.
The Bears can help their own cause by playing physical and making them work for every yard. Additionally, it almost goes without saying that the offensive line needs to play better.
Players to Watch
Until the line plays better, its captain should be the one to answer for them.
To say Tillman will have his hands full is an understatement. It will be interesting to see if “Peanut” will shadow one receiver (Larry Fitzgerald) or stick to one side.
Hillenmeyer is in charge of getting the defense in position, and with a passing attack as potent as the Cardinals', each player knowing his assignment will be critical. Adjusting at the line of scrimmage and dialing up appropriate blitzes are the only ways to stop a Kurt Warner-led offense.
Key to the Game
If Warner is given time to throw the ball, he’ll tear the Bears apart. It’s important to get in his face and force him to throw the ball off his back foot. Also, Warner has a low release point to his throws, so the line needs to work on getting their hands up if they can’t bring him to the turf.
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