[2014] Week 12 [preview] Bucs @ Bears

If there is any game Head Coach Lovie Smith has been eyeballing since the schedule was released last spring, it is this week’s matchup against his former Chicago Bears. Under new Head Coach Marc Trestman the Bears have gone away from defense and emphasized their offense. It is not going so well for them, having been blown out in two of their last three games. Buccaneers fans have a reason to be optimistic in a season that has left little room for hope.

Buccaneers Offense against Bears Defense

The Bears are playing a very simple Tampa Two and they are not very good at it. Because this system has been utilized for years, its weaknesses are pretty well known. This defense is highly susceptible to passes and runs aimed at the seams. All current players in the league know this, most having been playing against the Tampa Two since their high school football days. Our big receivers should have a field day provided our game plan has taken these vulnerabilities into account.

The Buccaneers run game has left a lot to be desired this season. We are still waiting to see what made RB Charles Sims (#34) worthy of a third round pick. So far RB Bobby Rainey (#43) has been the only productive running back this season. Luckily the Bears run defense is lacking, especially on the ends of the defensive line. Whichever running back is in should run in that direction to maximize yardage.

Buccaneers Defense against Bears Offense

Despite having large, athletic receivers capable of catching bombs, a majority of the Bears passes are short passes behind the line of scrimmage, set up by screens. They are generally effective given that their blockers are big, strong players: RB Matt Forte (#22), TE Martellus Bennett (#83), WR Brandon Marshall (#15), WR Alshon Jeffery (#17), etc., etc. They also run misdirection, so our defense should be wary.

This team’s biggest liability is QB Jay Cutler (#6). Now, to be fair to Cutler, he can also carry this offense. He is not afraid to get hit (probably from spending years behind Lovie Smith’s offensive lines) and is capable of standing in the pocket under pressure in order to give his receivers time to get open. The offense does this often, and we can expect to get burned by several of these plays this game. However, Cutler makes some terrible decisions and throws. In the blowout against Green Bay, Cutler, under pressure, threw the ball at his offensive lineman’s head, who was standing completely still. The ball was intercepted by Green Bay. It was a costly mistake that an experienced quarterback should really know how to avoid.

These Bears receivers are almost exactly like ours: big, athletic, and used quite frequently to catch jump balls in coverage. They are incredibly dangerous and our defense should be watching them like a hawk.

RB Matt Forte (#22) is a big bruising back to really can do it all. I expect him to shred our defense all day.

Spotlight: Head Coach Lovie Smith returns to Chicago

While Lovie’s departure from Chicago was long overdue according to most fans, it was not well-received by his players. Cutler (for whom Lovie gave away 2 first round draft picks) was very vocal about his displeasure. Well, now Lovie will have a chance to go up against many of the players he brought to Chicago, including: Cutler, Forte, LB Lance Briggs (#55), DT Stephen Paea (#92), S Chris Conte (#47), etc. Lovie’s defense, for which he has been dubbed a “defensive mastermind” (although we’ve yet to see it in Tampa), has largely been replaced. The team, with Head Coach Marc Trestman, is now an offensive-oriented team.

Buccaneers QB Josh McCown (#12) will also be returning to Chicago, where he garnered national attention for his performance last season while filling in for an injured Cutler. McCown also played under Lovie there.

Conclusion

This may be our last chance at a winnable game. Here’s how we can do it:

  • Exploit the Tampa Two by attacking the seams.
  • Be wary of screen passes by the Bears offense.
  • Capitalize on mistakes by Cutler.
  • Chicago’s most dangerous weapons: receivers and Forte

Go Bucs!

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