Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but injuries are taking a toll on the Chicago Bears’ season.
One year after placing 21 players on injured reserve, the Bears are already at 12 … and they don’t really have an answer as to why it’s happening to them all over again. Outside linebacker Willie Young, who has missed just two games since joining the Bears in 2013, chalks it up to football simply being a game of attrition.
“It’s going on throughout the league,” Young told Chris Emma (CBS Chicago). “It’s just football, and nothing you can do to prevent it. It has nothing to do with being in shape. It has nothing to do with awareness.”
Perhaps it’s an issue with bad luck, but the Bears’ star-crossed season is starting to reveal depth issues throughout the roster – and we’re just starting Week 3.
- As a team, the Bears are averaging 4.1 yards per rush, but that’s inflated due to some big runs from rookie Tarik Cohen in Week 1. Jordan Howard’s 2.7 yards per attempt is a steep fall from the 5.2 average he posted as a rookie in 2016, and Kyle Long’s absence could be one of the key reasons the Bears’ rushing attack hasn’t taken off as expected. Long suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the Bears’ 2016 loss against Tampa Bay and his recovery has taken longer than expected. Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times dives into the film study to explain where/how exactly the Bears offense misses Long at guard.
- Head coach John Fox hopes the Bears will get Long (and two other injured starters) back in the fold in Week 3. And Long isn’t the only starter whose absence is impacting the team’s productivity. The Bears really missed Prince Amukamara against Mike Evans, who had seven catches, 93 receiving yards, and a touchdown against Vic Fangio’s secondary. According to Pro Football Focus’ grading scale, both of the Bears’ starting cornerbacks grade as “poor” after two weeks. Marcus Cooper owns a 45.7 grade, while Kyle Fuller isn’t much better with a 46.6.
- One thing that would help keep a struggling secondary off the field might be a sustained passing attack. In his Week 2 grading assessment, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune explains how the dink-and-dunk passing game has failed the Bears and set the offense up to be lackluster. The reliance on a short passing attack has allowed defenses to narrow their focus on taking away underneath plays without having to account for anything deep. Indeed, Glennon threw just one pass that traveled more than 20 yards in the air on Sunday, and it came on a garbage-time touchdown to Deonte Thompson. Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains needs to implement more variety in his play calls and receiver routes if the Bears’ offense is going to avoid looking predictable for a third straight week.
- The combination of a predictable passing attack, a slew of unfortunate drops, and a non-existent running game has led to a woeful offensive showing for the Bears through two weeks. Bob LeGere of the Daily Herald writes there is plenty of blame to go around regarding the team’s offensive struggles. Tight end Zach Miller insists the Bears need to establish the ground game to free up the aerial attack. “If you’re not running the football, you’re not going to be able to throw it well either,” Miller said. “We need to establish a run game early on and then be able to stretch it down field as we progress.”
- There hasn’t been much progress to speak of when discussing the Bears’ offense through two weeks. The group ranks 25th in points, 21st in yards, and 24th in points per drive. Three years into Fox’s regime and the Bears offense still can’t take the next step.
- Remember when the offensive line was supposed to be a strength? Not only was the team’s interior offensive line in shambles by the end of Week 2 with two reserves springing into action, they had to go against this monster who took full advantage of the situation:
Gerald McCoy was a force in the middle of the Buccaneers defense against the Bears pic.twitter.com/uilMlp9QOq
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 19, 2017
- The Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense might be licking their chops entering their Week 3 matchup against the Bears. While quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, running back Le’Veon Bell, and receiver Antonio Brown grab the headlines, it’s been Pittsburgh’s defense carrying the load to a 2-0 start. The Steelers followed an opening-week performance in which they limited the Cleveland Browns to 237 total yards by allowing just 237 yards to the Minnesota Vikings. Opponents have scored 27 points in two games against Pittsburgh … the Bears have scored 24.
- And to think, Le’Veon Bell really hasn’t gotten it going yet. The all-world running back has been relatively quiet by his standards, but had an 87-yard rushing game on 27 carries against the Vikings after picking up just 32 yards on 10 attempts in Week 1. Bell knows the best is yet to come, telling Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette explosive plays are coming. Bell has averaged just 3.2 yards per carry in 2017, but has averaged 4.8 yards per attempt over the last three years.
- For what it’s worth, the Bears’ rush defense has been respectable. Opponents are averaging just 3.2 yards per carry, which ranks as the 10th best rush defense on a yards per attempt basis in the NFL. Making a team with a quarterback like Roethlisberger and receivers like Brown and Martavis Bryant a one-dimensional passing attack seems like a tedious task, but it’s arguably the only way the Bears have a shot to hang with the Steelers.
- Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reports Lamarr Houston is working out with the New Orleans Saints. Houston was on the Bears’ roster bubble until he suffered an injury against the Cleveland Browns in the preseason finale, but later released with an injury settlement. You could argue the Bears could use Houston as the team watches its front seven depth dwindle, but the Saints are even more desperate for help on defense. New Orleans has allowed the most yards per game (512.5) and the second most points (32.5). In case you’re curious, the Bears don’t play the Saints until October 29 in Week 8.