Chicago Bears: 5 Keys to Week 7 Victory over Tampa Bay in London
The Chicago Bears travel across the pond in a Week 7 showdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Chicago is coming off an impressive 39-10 stomping of the Minnesota Vikings. The Bucs took the NFC South lead by knocking off the New Orleans Saints 26-20.
The Bears need to continue doing what they did against Minnesota, and then some, to beat Tampa Bay. Keeping Jay Cutler upright is obvious in determining the success of the offense, but there are some underlying factors that will play a huge role in London on Sunday.
1. Eliminate Dropped Passes
Dane Sanzenbacher is the leading culprit on the Bears, and second in the league, with five dropped passes. The undrafted rookie free agent has made some big catches in his six-game NFL career, but he has dropped some potentially big passes. A red zone drop against the Vikings in Week 6 wasn't a factor, but those are the ones that definitely need to get hauled in. He also has a big drop on a third down against Carolina.
The Devin Hester experiment is still waiting to take off. He flashes the break away speed and the ability to get behind the secondary for the big play, but his short game is lacking with three drops so far this season.
Jay Cutler can't be to blame for the drops, but his 87.8 QB rating would be higher without them.
2. Defensive Line Pressure
The Bears' Cover 2 defense relies on pressuring the QB and forcing mistakes. Against the Lions in Week 5 the line got absolutely no pressure on Matthew Stafford. We all saw what happened on Monday Night Football.
Julius Peppers, Amobi Okoye, Henry Melton, Israel Idonije and rookie Stephen Paea will have to get in Josh Freeman's face and put him on the ground a couple times. Freeman has thrown six interceptions this year and has been sacked eight times, so he is not prone to mistakes.
If the Bear front four get the necessary pressure, they can cause the turnovers they need to ensure a W.
3. Keep It Simple
Bears' offensive coordinator, Mike Martz, must keep his brain from overloading. He has to realize the Bears are not built for the "Greatest Show on Turf". Yes, he called a good game Sunday night against the Vikings, but his track record as OC could shine through again. The success we had can crumble with his maverick play calling.
This offensive line is not built to withstand seven step drops nor a 20 yard in route. Keep the max protection on as we did against Minnesota, give Cutler some time, and most importantly run the ball.
Tampa Bay has 10 sacks through six weeks which makes them 23rd in the NFL.
4. Stop the Big Plays
In 2011, the Chicago Bears have allowed three plays of 70 yards or more. In the entire decade prior to this season, they allowed three.
They cannot allow the big plays to kill them and the best way to do that is to not let it happen. Bucs' RB LeGarrette Blount is likely out, leaving Ernest Graham who rushed for 109 yards on 17 carries against the Saints in the starting role. The Bears' linebackers, led by Brian Urlacher, will need to contain Graham and not let him into the secondary.
The Bears' secondary has been a huge question mark all year. They have been out of position and going for the big hit instead of breaking up the play. Last Sunday, the safety roulette wheel called the numbers of rookie Chris Conte and Major Wright.
Chris Harris, who was coming off a hamstring injury, didn't even suit up against the Vikings due to a horrible performance against Detroit. Brandon Meriweather was also benched for his performance in Detroit.
Head coach Lovie Smith hasn't placed his bet yet, so we'll see which safety combo we'll get in London.
5. Keep Jay Clean
This one is a very obvious and simple theory: When Jay Cutler has time to throw the ball, he can do amazing things.
This is confusing but follow along the Bears' offensive line. Chicago is using using a guard at center (Roberto Garza), a center at guard (Chris Spencer), a right guard at right tackle (Lance Louis), a right tackle at left tackle (J'Marcus Webb), and a left tackle at left guard (Chris Williams).
Somehow against Minnesota and NFL sack leader Jared Allen, it worked and worked well. Chicago has had their woes on the offensive line, but benching "False Start Frankie" Omiyale paid dividends. First-round draft pick right tackle Gabe Carimi is due back after the Week 8 bye and will add to the confusion.
The offensive line needs to protect Jay just as bad as the defensive line needs pressure on Josh Freeman. If this happens the Bears can have a huge day.