3. Apply a clean, multidimensional pass rush against Andy Dalton and the Bears.
What I mean by this is that the Bengals are very familiar with Andy Dalton’s tendencies as a QB as he was in Cincinnati for nine seasons. So the Bengals need to use that as a strength in how they attack gaps when blitzing. Dalton struggles when pressure is applied, so giving the Bears offensive line different looks and rushing the passer from different angles and aspects will be vital in the defense’s success.
If Cincinnati lets Dalton sit in the pocket and throw the ball, he will be successful more than not. He is not a bad QB by any means, which means the defense needs to be as aggressive as they were with Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook as they are with Andy Dalton and David Montgomery. If Montgomery gets going early and finds his rhythm, this game will be close and will play into the 4th quarter a lot like the Minnesota game. But if we can limit chunk plays on the ground, push the Bears behind the chains and force Dalton to make rugged, uncomfortable passes, then Cincinnati should have a lot of success as a unit.
Also, being ready for Justin Fields when he shows up is essential because he will play at times, and being caught off guard as a defense will let the rookie have his way. Fields is very talented, not only through the air but using his feet as well. Keeping a spy on him when he plays may be the way to limit anything he may try to do scrambling. He doesn’t have Lamar Jackson’s speed or agility, but he is knowledgeable and knows how to hit holes, find gaps and recognize when a defense isn’t picking up on his signals.
2. Get the ball out quickly
This one will be crucial to the Bengals success Sunday. The Bears’ most significant strength is their front seven and their ability to rush the passer from all sorts of schemes and disguises. Khalil Mack is the leader of the defense, and he is also one of the best defensive players in the entire league, so knowing where he is at all times will be essential for the offensive line and the running backs who are blocking in the backfield.
Joe Burrow was sacked 5 times last week. The good news is that of those 5 sacks, 4 of them were against either Trey Hopkins the center, Drew Sample the tight end, and the running back. Jonah Williams and Riley Reiff were one of only three tackle tandems that didn’t allow a single sack, which is something you want to hear as a Bengals fan. But what does this mean?
First off, Trey Hopkins will need to be better, but it also was his first game back coming off a torn ACL like Burrow, so there will be bumps in the road as he progresses. But, the help side blocking will need to improve. Often Giovani Bernard was the key guy in this role. He was great laying down a block once rushers got to the second level with their blitz, but not having him anymore means other guys need to step up. Drew Sample is one of those guys considering the main reason the team drafted him was because of his blocking abilities.
Regardless, the Bengals will need to be stout in both pass blocking and run blocking for them to have the success they want to have as an offense, and an early-season test against the Chicago Bears front will be the perfect match for that challenge.
- Get Tyler Boyd involved and be agressive in the passing game.
The Chicago Bears’ biggest weakness is their secondary. They ranked as the 4th worst secondary in the league last week against the LA Rams, whose tandem consists of Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and Van Jefferson. But, of course, you could easily make the case that the Bengals are even more dynamic than the Rams, so if they had success, the Bengals don’t have much of an excuse not to exploit the struggling cornerbacks and safties.
Jaylon Johnson is probably one of the more talented corners on the team, and his assignment will more than likely be on Ja’Marr Chase or Tee Higgins, which gives Tyler Boyd a favorable matchup as he is one of the best slot corners in the league. Boyd had a slow week in Week 1, only hauling in 3 catches for 32 yards, so this would be a prime matchup for him to have his first breakout game of the season.
Higgins and Chase both could have success as well. A lot will be determined on how much time the offensive line gives Joe Burrow because passes down the field would be the ideal way to beat this secondary. Keeping the linebackers involved in short passes will be a way for the Bears to hang around in this one because of their ability to tackle in the open field and attack the football off the snap and the throw. Keeping them on their toes by mixing in Joe Mixon will be necessary, and if Mixon can get going in this game, that could change the approach for the offense. Being able to complete longer passes down the field of at least 15-20 yards will be vital. I expect Tyler Boyd to lead the team in receptions in this game.
(Before Week 1 – Bengals: 17 – Bears: 14)
Now – Bengals: 28 – Bears: 17
Weekly Offensive MVP: Tyler Boyd
Weekly Defensive MVP: Trey Hendrickson