Chicago Bears and coach Matt Nagy look set to break two losing streaks on Sunday when they host the Baltimore Ravens at Soldier Field. Not only has the Bears lost four in a row this season, but the team has never won a game after a farewell week under Nagy. They lost to the Miami Dolphins in overtime in 2018, the New Orleans Saints in 2019 and the Green Bay Packers in 2020 in Nagy’s first three seasons. The Bears have not won to come out of their farewell week since 2013.
The Bears were free last week to reflect on the 29-27 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers and regroup for the second half of the season. As the kickoff against the Ravens approaches, here’s our snapshot of the game.
Chicago Bears (3-6) vs. Baltimore Ravens (6-3)
- Kickoff: Sunday dinner at Soldaterpladsen.
- TV and radio: CBS-2, WBBM-AM 780, WCFS-FM 105.9, WRTO-AM 1200 (Spanish).
- The line: Ravens with 6. Above / below: 44½.
- sign up now get Brad Biggs’ 10 thoughts first
Playing in the spotlight
As Nagy said this week, “it starts and ends of course” with Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.
The 2019 NFL MVP has another great season, and as he recovers from a non-COVID-19 illness that kept him out of two training sessions this week, the Bears will have their hands full. Jackson has completed 199 of 309 passes (64.4%) for 2,447 yards, 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions and has rushed to 639 yards and two touchdowns. He has also completed four battle-winning races this season.
Safety Tashaun Gipson said Jackson’s deep ball “looks better than ever” but that the quarterback also has the ability to “bust a 90-yard run on you, make your entire defense look silly.” Gipson was asked if defenders worried about being embarrassed by Jackson, and he offered an honest answer.
“If such a guy makes you miss, it’s Lamar Jackson, right? So it’s not like the end of the world,” Gipson said. “It’s not like if Peyton Manning threw you or Tom Brady. It is different.
“He could probably be one of the best running backs in the NFL … It’s clear you do not want to be embarrassed, period, whether you play a Derrick Henry or you play a Lamar Jackson. “Just that component, when he’s on the field, he’s dangerous. You do not treat him like a quarterback. You treat him like an athlete. He can make you miss.”
Gipson said the best way to defend Jackson when he takes off is to swarm him. Defensive coordinator Sean Desai stressed that when players get Jackson in a one-on-one situation, they must “close the distance with speed and then grab a body part and hold on.”
“Just hold on and you have to trust that the persecution is coming,” Desai said. “Because like Tashaun said, you rarely get a one-on-one shot at this guy. Just look at the tape. There are not many guys in one-on-one situations because space is wide and limited. But you “They have to have the second and third guy around. They have to come with persecution, and they have to come up with a purpose and an intentionality to help get the guy down.”
Can the Bears’ attacks build on the explosive games they had against the Steelers?
The Ravens defense has allowed 6.18 yards per. games, ranked 30th in the NFL, including 7.7 passing yards per game. games, ranked 29. The Miami Dolphins had three passes on 35 yards or yards in their 22-10 showdown against the Ravens last week.
That could be good news for a Bears offense that performed more explosive games in the passing game against the Steelers. Bears quarterback Justin Fields had eight passes on 16 yards or more, including four on 25 yards or more.
Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said part of the Bears offensive is finally getting better.
“Some matches we came out and we had a certain set of games that we thought would give them to us,” Lazor said. “We kick ourselves to only get two of the five plays called, and then you look at them, and then you say, ‘Gosh, we did not get the coverage we thought at the time, or maybe they actually played deeper,’ than we thought. ‘So sometimes you try and you were wrong.
‘I think the guys feel it. They feel they need it to get us more production. So they are encouraged to do so. (Fields) are encouraged to do so. As coaches, we try to do that. We’re just trying to make it stick together. ”
If the bears get the big games, they will have to convert when it counts and the ravens do not make it easy. They have the best red zone defense in the NFL, allowing opponents to convert on just 44.4% of the chances.
Watch out for…
While special teams coordinator Chris Tabor wanted to talk about everything the Bears need to prepare to meet the Ravens’ strong special teams units, he had plenty to reflect on from the Steelers game first. Most important, of course, was Nagy’s decision to get kicker Cairo Santos to try his hand at a 65-yard field goal at the end of the game instead of trying a Hail Mary pass.
“We always talk and always talk about those things,” Tabor said. “But in the end, you realize that both of these are low percentages of games that the coach mentioned. We visit it, the coach makes the decision, and we go.”
Santos fell short with his decisive kick, finishing a series of 40 low field goals in a row, four from equaling the NFL record. Tabor was asked how Santos handled his streak, ending in such a difficult kick.
“That’s why I love him,” Tabor said. “It’s clear he’s a really good player. He’s a really good man and he’s a really good teammate. What he’s been through all his career in terms of coming back from injury, getting an opportunity last years and take advantage of his opportunity and continue it, it talks about who he is.And that’s why I say we start a new (streak).
Santos turns to start a new streak against a Ravens unit that will cause Calais Campbell to try to block his field-goal attempt. Meanwhile, a Bears point coverage team that had the DeAndre Houston-Carson scoop and scored on a groping point return against the Steelers also has a new challenge. Ravens returnee Devin Duvernay has 18 points returns for 293 yards – an NFL-leading 16.3 yards per carry. return – and 11 kickoff rebounds for 271 yards this season.
“I mean, this guy is really dynamic,” Tabor said. “He’s fast, he’s explosive, he’s cool. He’s ticking pretty much all the adjectives you want to talk about in a return.
Odds and ends
The Bears finally unlocked a bit of their close ends against the Steelers in Week 9, with Cole Kmet recording a season-high six catches on 87 yards and Jimmy Graham adding an important 28-yard catch to open the fourth quarter. Graham also had a 1-yard touchdown grip deleted on a questionable low-block call against guard James Daniels.
The extra dimension is a boost to the Bears offense, which yielded 287 yards and 17 points in the second half in Pittsburgh. Kmet felt encouraged by the emergence of the passing game in that game.
“I think we’m calming down a bit,” he said. “All the guys got together on the sidelines, settled down, and Justin (Fields) made some good throws, and it started clicking from there. We just have to get there sooner.”
For an offense that has been looking for something for so long, the Bears’ fourth-quarter preparatory touchdown drive on the road was also encouraging.
Fields should have additional chances to get Kmet involved in the passing attack on Sunday. And the second-year tight-end hopes that whatever clicked during the Steelers game continues.
“As we’ve got more reps with Justin at the helm, things have just gotten naturally better,” Kmet said. “We have a little sense of each other. Not just me but the other recipients as well. I think it will continue to evolve as the year goes on.”
The bears placed edge rusher Khalil Mack and linebacker Danny Trevathan on injured reserve Friday and also declared defensive lineman Akiem Hicks out for Sunday’s game against the Ravens. It will leave the defense short-handed and in transition mode in its attempt to slow down Jackson and a Ravens offensive that averages 414.1 yards per carry. match, ranked second in the NFL.
Losing Mack for the rest of the season will force the Bears to find new answers to their pass-rush. And it’s still possible that the team could promote newly signed veteran Bruce Irvin to the active roster this weekend. Irvin trained for the Bears on Thursday and joined their training team for training on Friday, but has not played since Week 2 last season, working back from a front cruciate ligament tear in his right knee, which required two surgeries to resolve.
Matt Nagy said: “Where is he, not only mentally in terms of understanding our defenses but also physically? He’s been out for a while. As with all these guys, the mental and physical side is a bit different for every guy. ”
On the bright side, safety Eddie Jackson completed two training sessions this week as a restricted participant, and while it is officially questionable for Sunday, it appears to be heading in the right direction to try to play.
Recipient Allen Robinson, meanwhile, is listed as doubtful with a hamstring injury that has kept him out of training all week. Without Robinson, the Bears are pretty thin on the receiving end with only Darnell Mooney, Marquise Goodwin, Damiere Byrd and Jakeem Grant on the active list. Nagy indicated Friday that either Rodney Adams or Isaiah Coulter could be options to be promoted to the playlist.
Offensive tackle Elijah Wilkinson (doubtful, back) is the only other player with an injury designation for Sunday.
Brad Biggs (8-1)
The Ravens defense has been far more likely to bust than in previous years, which is a primary reason the Ravens are ranked 32nd in the NFL, defending passing and 29th in yards per game. care attempts. They tend to get hit by the big game, especially in losses. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey is a top-five player on the position, but with safety DeShon Elliott on injured reserve and cornerback Marcus Peters losing for the season, it has created problems. The Bears’ dormant passing game came alive in the second half against the Steelers, and there are many reasons for optimism regarding rookie quarterback Justin Fields, who could be ready for another big game. Despite all the Ravens’ matches, they are No. 3 in the league on the third down and No. 1 in the red zone. What’s problematic for the Bears is that wide receiver Allen Robinson (ankle) is questionable and they have got very little production from third and fourth options, Marquise Goodwin and Damiere Byrd, who will have to go up. Assuming quarterback Lamar Jackson returns from an illness – and he practiced on Friday – the Ravens offense will be a strain to deal with and the Bears will not be able to give numbers to the box to slow down the running game they did against Steelers without exposing the secondary.
Ravens 34, Bears 27
Colleen Kane (8-1)
The Miami Dolphins may have slowed Lamar Jackson last week, but I do not think that is necessarily a good thing for the Bears. If Jackson feels okay after losing time this week due to an illness, I imagine he will be motivated to play a bounce-back game. Given the Ravens defense’s statistics against opponents’ passing games, including explosive games, I think there’s a possibility that Justin Fields could play a big game – and get upset. Maybe fans will be lucky enough to see Fields and Jackson try to unfold late heroics in a melee. Both show balance in crunchy times, but Jackson and the Ravens also have the wins.
Ravens 27, Bears 24
Dan Wiederer (8-1)
One would think the Bears could have some sort of advantage after their farewell week. But they played their Week 9 game on a Monday night, and the Ravens’ Week 10 game came three nights later. So both teams have been given a rest and a chance to regroup. It probably did not do the Bears many services either that the Ravens experienced a rare dud match their last time-out, where they lost 22-10 to the Dolphins. Lamar Jackson and Co. promises to be refocused and motivated for their visit to Soldier Field. The Ravens also have a more lethal offensive and a more well-rounded team through all three phases. Alas, the Bears’ slip reaches five games.
Ravens 27, Bears 23
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