As the Chicago Bears finished prepping for their game Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, the team received some helpful news on Friday as the Bengals ruled several of their defensive starters out for the game. The players include linebacker Vontaze Burfict, both starting cornerbacks Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick, and safety Shawn Williams.
The list of players ruled out comes at what could be the best time for the Bears offense that has struggled heavily in their last two games, and could be a final straw for head coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains if the same result takes place.
In their last three games against the Lions, Eagles, and 49ers, the Bears longest pass play has been of 21 yards. The play was a screen pass to running back Benny Cunningham coming out of the backfield. Their longest pass play to a wide receiver was 18 yards to Dontrelle Inman against the Eagles who were playing in a prevent defense. On Sunday, the Bengals will be very thin in the secondary and it may be the first time all season that the Bears wide receiver might have an advantage over their opponent secondary.
The offense has been missing the threat of a deep passing game since the Green Bay game four weeks ago. In that game, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky had his highest passing yardage game this season throwing for 297 yards. Furthermore, Trubisky completed four passes of 20 yards or longer in the game and it was the fourth consecutive game where he completed at least one pass of 25 yards or longer.
With the threat of a prominent passing game, the Bears running game was successful and since the Lions game they have struggled mightily. In a five-game span from the Baltimore game to the Lions game, running back Jordan Howard ran for over 100 yards in three of those games.
In the last two games, with no threat of a deep passing game, Howard has been limited to just 40 yards. the team also managed at least one run over 25 yards or more in four of the those five games.
Heading into Sunday’s game against the Bengals, The Bears offense biggest priority should be pass early to open up the run as the Bengals could be without their entire starting secondary. Wide receiver Markus Wheaton should see more playing time as he is familiar with the Bengal’s defense as he has played in seven game against them during his five year career posting 12 catches for 141 yards. Tight end Adam Shaheen should be used more, as well as the Bengals, will be thin of depth and experience at the linebacker position. The Bears passing attack should attack the defense using these players with intermediate or deep passing routes. Trubisky might have more protection up front and more time in the pocket with the possibility of Pro Bowl defensive end Geno Atkins missing the game with toe injury.
If the Bears offense is inept once again this week, it should be inexcusable for Loggains to be allowed to finish out the season as the team’s offensive coordinator. The offense failed to produce more that 150 total yards last week against one of the worst offenses in the NFL. Loggains as a play caller needs to capitalize on the injuries as his offense has a good chance of having success on Sunday. Also, a big day on offense allows them to build confidence the rest of the season. Positive play can snowball for a team and it would be best for the team’s young quarterback to finish his rookie season strong.
The game is a big one for Fox as well as he needs to keep his players motivated for the remainder of the season.
The Bears chances of winning increased Friday and they need to take advantage of it. The Bengals playoff hopes came to an end with their loss against the Steelers this past Monday night missing the playoffs for the second straight year. That mixed with the injuries, the team might have issues finding motivation if the game doesn’t go their way early. The Bears are not expected to win Sunday, but a non inspired offensive game plan is needed because if the team yields the same output, it could be a really hard Monday.