After an impressive showing in a 23-17 loss to the reigning NFC champion Atlanta Falcons, the Chicago Bears are preparing for a week two match-up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bears turned some heads by hanging with the Falcons, and things are looking up in the Windy City. But how can they defeat a Bucs team that many expect to be one of the league’s most exciting franchises? These are our Bears keys to victory for week two.
Week Two Chicago Bears Keys to Victory
Tarik Cohen… A Lot of Tarik Cohen
For one, it looks like the Bears have found a special football player. Tarik Cohen, the 119th overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, appears poised to be a major contributor this season. In his professional debut, he saw five carries for 66 yards, while adding eight receptions for 47 yards and this nifty little touchdown:
The man nicknamed “The Human Joystick” also added 45 yards on three punt returns, bringing his all-purpose yardage total to 158, a Bears record for any rookie in a season opener. Oh, and just to keep opposing defenses guessing, he took a snap from the shotgun formation and handed off to Pro Bowl tailback Jordan Howard for a four yard touchdown on a draw play.
It seems Cohen’s versatility and explosiveness are going to be very valuable to the Bears in 2017, and if this offense is going to keep pace with high-powered franchises like Tampa Bay, he’ll need to be a key factor. Howard will remain the lead runner, but Cohen needs to receive as many touches as he can handle.
Find a Productive Receiver
First, the Bears lost Cameron Meredith to a torn ACL in the preseason. Now, Kevin White will miss the remainder of the campaign after sustaining a fractured shoulder blade in week one. These were the two men the team was relying on to carry the passing game and their absence will be felt in a big way.
Mike Glennon was efficient in his Bears debut, completing 26 of 40 passes for 216 yards and a touchdown. While no one expected Glennon to produce Pro Bowl numbers, he played turnover-free football and let the running game handle most of the heavy lifting. Still, he is going to need some support from his wide receivers if this team has designs on a successful season.
The Bears top pass-catchers in week one were the aforementioned Cohen (8-47-1) and tight end Zach Miller (4-39). No wide receiver secured more than three receptions, and that certainly needs to change. Kendall Wright looks like the next man up in the rotation, and Markus Wheaton should see a significant role when he returns from injury.
This was always going to be a number one receiving-by-committee approach, but someone is going have to step up this week. The Bears need to establish a passing game to compete with the Bucs high-octane attack. Speaking of which…
Strong Defensive Performance
Jameis Winston, Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, O.J. Howard, and Cameron Brate. The Buccaneers have a lot of talent on offense and in order for Glennon company to keep pace in this contest, the Bears defense is going to be at its best.
It’s a tall order, but week one showed us what this unit is capable of. They held the elite Falcons offense to 23 points, All-Pro wideout Julio Jones was only able to secure four receptions for 66 yards, and were it not for an 88-yard Austin Hooper touchdown, reigning MVP Matt Ryan‘s final stat line would have been pedestrian at best. More of the same will be required to slow the Bucs down, but if Akiem Hicks and the rest of the stop unit are at their best, an upset is entirely possible.
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