The 2-0 Pittsburgh Steelers are going against the 0-2 Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Week 3 of NFL action, and most people are suggesting this one will be over before it even starts.
The experience of the Steelers’ lineup simply isn’t found on the Bears’ roster, but this wouldn’t be the first upset on Mike Tomlin’s resume.
Do the Bears have the talent to pull of a stunner in the Windy City? I was able to ask Jeff Berckes, of Windy City Gridiron (SB Nation’s Bears website), some questions about the matchup, including a prediction.
Check out the interview below:
Simple question: Will the Steelers see Trubisky? Or are the Bears content just throwing Glennon out there for another week? Inquiring minds want to know.
I think the simple answer to your question is “no” because John Fox is stubborn. He’s the anti-Bill O’Brien. I’ve been predicting Week 5 against the Vikings because Trubisky will have an 11-day window to get ready, going from Thursday night football to a Monday night game. They’ll likely be sitting at 0-4, and why not distract the fan base with a shiny new object? However, if they’re worried about throwing Trubisky to the wolves – prime time game against a good defense – then you’re probably waiting until the Panthers in Week 7 or the Saints in Week 8. The Bears only have one defense that makes you nervous on the back half of the schedule (Eagles), so if it’s all about building confidence for 2018, those are all in play.
The Bears are struggling after two weeks, but played well in Week 1. What is working for the offense and defense right now?
The Bears were competitive with the Falcons to an extent. Mainly, they played well on defense and made a comeback against prevent coverage as the Falcons did their best to repeat history.
When guys are healthy (which just simply isn’t the case right now), the Bears have a stout front-7 and make due with a collection of retread veterans, a post-hype sleeper (Kyle Fuller), and a promising rookie playmaker, Eddie Jackson, in the secondary. They’re a year—maybe two—away from being a complete defense but there are some promising signs. Bears fans should hope that, whatever happens in the off-season, Vic Fangio is allowed to complete his vision for this defense.
On offense, again, ideally this team can run the ball. The interior of the offensive line, on paper, looked like one of the best in the league. Kyle Long hasn’t played yet this year, Josh Sitton left Week 2 with an injury and they’re already down top reserve Eric Kush for the season. If the Bears can’t run the ball, they certainly can’t pass it because they’re without their projected top-2 WRs for the season, losing Cameron Meredith and Kevin White. Two weeks ago you could squint at this roster and see a viable path forward for a team that might flirt with 8-8. At this point, you’d need a stiff drink to talk yourself into anything close to that.
Outside of the quarterback situation, who are some players, offense or defense, for Steelers fans to keep an eye on as the team heads to the Windy City in Week 3?
I mentioned Eddie Jackson above and I think he’s worth keeping an eye on. Rookie safeties have a big learning curve, and going against a savvy all-timer like Big Ben could be interesting. Leonard Floyd is the best edge-rusher the team has at this point. He’s still a little raw but showed a lot of promise last year.
Steelers fans probably heard about Tarik Cohen, the shifty Darren Sproles clone who took fantasy football by storm in Week 1. I’ll be watching him closely as my hunch is he’s giving away the play call when he’s in the game. If the Steelers bottle him up, it will tell me the play calling is too predictable.
What is the general style of defense the Bears run on a regular basis? The Steelers’ prolific offense has faced two very competent units in Weeks 1 and 2, and had marginal success against both.
The Bears run a 3-4 base defense and, like all NFL teams, spend a lot of time in sub packages. Although John Fox was a traditional 4-3 guy at his previous stops, they committed to running Vic Fangio’s scheme when he was brought on as DC. This is part of the long roster transition that has taken place. They needed to flush the defense coming out of the Lovie Smith Tampa-2 anyway, but it’s been a tough transition gathering the pieces to play a completely different defense. I think the Bears can hold their own against the Steelers’ run game but man alive, there’s no one on that roster equipped to cover Antonio Brown. After this weekend, the Bears will have faced the best three receivers in the league in Brown, Julio, and Mike Evans – and they’ll eventually face Jordy Nelson and AJ Green. Good times for a leaky secondary.
How do you see this game playing out, and what is your prediction?
Well, if the Steelers are going to stumble this year, I don’t see it happening in Chicago. The defense could show up and make the Steelers work for it, but with some of the missing pieces, I don’t see how they can slow down the myriad weapons on the field for 60 minutes. If Kyle Long and Josh Sitton are on the sidelines, the Bears won’t be able to run the ball, which is just setting up the statue that is Mike Glennon for sacks and turnovers. While I’d like to predict otherwise, I see the Steelers grinding some points out early, hitting a big play or two early in the second half, and then taking the air out of the ball late.