Behind Enemy Lines: A Closer Look At The Chicago Bears


Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears have been somewhat of an enigma this season as a team that many saw as a potential Super Bowl contender (myself included) has stuttered to an early 2-3 record. Despite a shaky start the Bears still boast a roster full of talent and for a Falcons team coming off two ugly losses Sundays game is anything but a walk in the park for an Atlanta team that desperately needs a win.

Chicago’s Offense Yet to Hit Full Stride:

The Bears have one of the most impressive groupings of offensive weapons in the league and yet so far in 2014 the group has only shown flashes of its potential. Jay Cutler has been his usual inconsistent self and considering the amount of weapons he has available it’s definitely a disappointment that Chicago hasn’t been more dominant both through the air and on the ground.

Chicago’s offensive line has been an inconsistent group this year and teams have shown that when you can hurry Jay Cutler more often than not the bad Jay Cutler shows up. The Bears line has given up 9 sacks and 30 hurries so far this season and the good news for the Falcons is that left tackle Jermon Bushrod has been ruled out of today’s game and will most likely be replaced by Michael Ola who is predominantly a guard not a tackle. If the Falcons pass rushers were ever going to have a break out game today would be that day.

When you think of the Chicago Bears you instantly think of their phenomenal WR duo of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery has continued on his play from last year and is undoubtedly becoming one of the leagues better receivers. Brandon Marshall on the other hand is already established as one of the leagues premiere receivers and yet 2014 hasn’t been the greatest year for Marshall thus far. Marshall suffered an ankle injury in week 1 and he has clearly been bothered by this ever since, as is reflected by his stats; 19 catches for 188 yards and 5 TD’s. While Marshall may have been banged up for the most of 2014 he has still been a prenominal redzone target and even if he isn’t 100% this week the Falcons still need to seriously respect his ability to catch TD’s.

Martellus Bennett has always been an incredibly talented but inconsistent player, however, through 5 games it is Bennett who has been arguably the Bears most consistent player as the big TE has made plays both as a receiver and a blocker. Bennett is a big target who also has the ability to stretch the field and if he has a favorable matchup (even sometimes if not) Jay Cutler isn’t afraid to throw the ball up for the big man to catch. The Falcons linebackers are one of the weakest units in the NFL and Bennett could have a field day if Mike Nolan doesn’t scheme a way to keep the Falcons linebacker from being matched with Bennett.

All week the Falcons coaches and players have talked about Matt Forte being the ‘engine’ that drives the Bears offense. The Falcons have struggled in run defense all year but there were signs of improvement last week vs the Giants and If they want a chance of winning today’s game they will have to improve again because Matt Forte is one of the league’s best backs. Forte is a phenomenal player as a rusher, catcher and blocker and the Falcons are correct to key in so much on the running back, whether they can stop him or not remains to be seen.

While many people will focus on the Marshall/Jeffery duo it is the Bennett/Forte duo that gives the Falcons defense a matchup problem. If Mike Nolan can find a way to keep Forte and Bennett quiet the Falcons will have a much better chance of winning this game.

Bears Defense Banged Up:

The Chicago Bears invested heavily in their defense this offseason and the results have been fairly positive as Chicago’s unit has gone from being arguably the worst group in football last season to a fairly average group this year. The biggest changes the Bears made was up front where they heavily invested in the defensive line as Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston, Willie Young, Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton were all brought in for this season, either as draft picks or free agent signees.

Surprisingly the player who has made the biggest impact for the Bears so far is Willie Young who leads the Bears with 5 sacks. Lamarr Houston a player the Falcons should have brought in this season has also played at his usual high level. Houston doesn’t get many sacks but he generates a lot of pressure and hurries and is a very solid run defender. On passing downs the Bears have shown a tendency to kick Houston inside in a sort of NASCAR package that allows them to have 4 pass rushers on the field. Draft picks Will Sutton and Ego Ferguson are only used as part of the rotation at this point but both have looked fairly solid in the snaps that they’ve seen, Ferguson in particular has flashed a couple of times on film.

On the whole the Bears defensive line has been inconsistent as they have at times struggled to both stop the run and rush the passer (sounds familiar to Falcons fans). With a makeshift offensive line the Falcons will have to be wary of the Bears line and it would be nice to see the Falcons commit to the run early in an attempt to slow down the Bears pass rushers.

At linebacker the Bears are seriously banged up heading into today’s game. Veteran Lance Briggs has already been ruled out while Jon Bostic and D.J. Williams are both questionable for the game. The fact that the Bears this week promoted LB Terrell Manning off the practice squad suggest they are not confident in either Bostic or Williams suiting up. Whoever suits up for the Bears the Falcons need to attack the middle of the field as the Bears play a lot of zone coverage and their linebackers simply won’t be able to handle a lot of the Falcons receivers in coverage. The Bears don’t blitz a whole lot and so if the offensive line can hold up Matt Ryan should have a field day picking apart this team, particularly the middle of the field. If Levine Toilolo was ever going to have a breakout game today would be that day.

The Bears are also banged up in the secondary as they have already lost Peanut Tillman for the season and nickleback Sherrick McManis is only questionable for today’s game with quad and knee injuries. With Tillman being lost for the season rookie corner Kyle Fuller has stepped into the starting role and so far he has performed extremely well picking off 3 passes and generally looking very competent in coverage. Opposite Fuller the Bears have Tim Jennings who although steady is a player the Falcons should target, especially if he’s matched up with Julio as Julio has a huge size advantage. At safety the Bears have two below average starter in Chris Conte and Ryan Mundy. The Falcons should try and get receivers matched up 1 on 1 with either of these safeties as much as possible both can be exploited.

Overall the Bears defense is a solid unit but this week they are really struggling with injuries and if the Falcons offensive line can hold up the Falcons offense looks capable of putting up a lot of points.


There is no question that the Bears are a talented team and like the Falcons they enter this week with something to prove. However, with the injuries they have on defense the Bears look like they could give up a lot of points and at home I fancy Matt Ryan and the Falcons defense to do enough to pull out the win and maybe, just maybe get this season back on track.