Hey everyone... I was just looking over the starting lineups for the game on Sunday ("Da Bears!") and a few things jumped out at me. Hopefully these are things we can exploit:
I know Pace was a great OT back in the day, but that day was awhile ago. He's slower and less agile now and Deebo's speed rush should give him fits. If Pace overcompensates to the outside, Deebo should be able to get plenty of leverage under Pace's 6'8 frame and bull rush him. Either way, there's a good chance Jay Cutler will take a few well-deserved blind-side shots courtesy of Mr. Harrison.
2. If Deebo dominates Pace, Matt Forte might be less effective.
Blitz's post the other day made some great points about the effectiveness of Matt Forte in the short passing game. And as we saw last year with Tennessee, the quick game seems to be one of the few remedies for this Steeler defense. However, no team can rely on the quick game for 60 minutes, and I'm sure Coach LeBeau has worked on some things designed to take those screens and quicks away (dropping DE's or maybe even Big Snack into coverage?) At some point the Bears will have to challenge the Steelers downfield. And if they do so, it's likely they'll have to double Deebo with their back (presumably Forte). Because Cutler probably hasn't had enough time with the WR's to get on the same page as far as hot reads vs. the blitz is concerned, there's a good chance they'll have to max protect. The more snaps Matt Forte spends in protection, the better things will be for us.
3. With Urlacher out, the Tampa-2 is vulnerable down the field.
I suppose the logic might be that now, because Brian Urlacher's out, it will be easier for us to run the football. I'm not sure that's how we can best exploit his absence, though. The Tampa-2 scheme Lovie Smith has always run relies on a fast Mike backer to sprint down the middle of the field with slot receivers so the safeties can cheat to the hashmarks and take away the outside Vert and Smash routes. We've seen Hines Ward run countless cover-2 beaters in which he lines up in the slot, bends his route to the hash and then arrows back between the safeties. Off of play-action, this is a great play vs. cover-2. With Urlacher the Bears might have been able to get under it. Without him? I don't know. I anticipate Hines having a big day and ripping off some big chunks of yardage downfield.
All in all, I agree with Blitz that this will be a tough game but I like some of the match-ups I see. What about you all?