After a disappointing second-half collapse in the regular season opener against the Houston Texans, the Chicago Bears move into Week 2 against the Philadelphia Eagles.
With the game on Monday night, the Bears will have an extra day to prepare for their home opener and, judging by their second-half performance in Week 1, they could use the extra day.
It was truly a tale of two halves for the Bears, one that showed promise for a club in transition and one that looked eerily like the losing teams of the past three years. Either way, it’s time for the Bears to put the disappointment behind them and fix the many mistakes from the season opener.
The Eagles will come into Chicago with a 1-0 record but that one win was against the Cleveland Browns, who appear to be one of the worst teams in the league. Vegas odds have the Bears opening as a 2.5-point favorite.
Here are five things to watch for in Week 2.
John Fox has always been known as a conservative coach but during the opener he showed aggressive tendencies in the first quarter. The first was a 4th-and-1 inside the 40, which failed because of a botched snap. The second was a pedal-the-metal drive late in the second quarter that gave the Bears a 14-10 lead going into halftime.
Outside of that, Fox and his staff lacked adjustments in the second half, mainly on the offensive side of the ball. Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains must find a better way of keeping Jay Cutler clean, while establishing far less predictable game plans. Fox needs to figure out when and what to challenge -- he chose not to challenge a 3rd-down Brock Osweiler sneak that was clearly short and later challenged a Will Fuller reception that was undoubtedly a catch -- and make sure his questionable challenge decisions don’t create sizable momentum swings for the opponent.
It was a quality first-half performance from Chicago's offense, including an offensive line that, for the most part, gave Cutler time to throw in the pocket. The final 30 minutes, however, were a completely different story, during which the offense gained just three total first downs.
Jeremy Langford averaged a meager 3.4 per carry and the line gave up five sacks of Cutler and 13 QB hits.
The offensive line has undergone serious changes, never before played together and started a rookie at center, so their struggles were understandable but only to a certain extent.
The Bears are paying right tackle Bobbie Massie an average of $6 million per year to be an outstanding run blocker and a serviceable pass blocker. In addition, the Bears have the most expensive interior line in all of football, but none of it added up on Sunday.
It’s worth noting that this unit faced a ferocious Texans front seven that included J.J. Watt, Jadaveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus. Yet the Bears will square off against plenty of strong defensive fronts this year, so this is something that needs to be fixed quickly.
This week, the Bears will face a lighter task against Philadelphia's defensive line, which won’t feature nearly the amount of elite pass-rushing talent as the Texans did in Week 1.
The absence of OLB Pernell McPhee was felt Sunday afternoon for a defensive unit that desperately needs pressure to mask a questionable secondary.
The Bears managed just two sacks, allowing QB Brock Osweiler ample time in the pocket, especially in crucial 3rd-down situations in which Houston was 12-for-20 during the game.
One of the two sacks came from inside linebacker Danny Trevathan, which is fine, but they need to get more out of their interior pass rushers and outside linebackers.
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio did not run many blitzes in an attempt to keep the pressure off a young and inexperienced secondary that was facing a group of speedy receivers. That's unlikely to change.
If this unit is going to take the next step, it has to start with consistent pressure up front. Willie Young, Lamarr Houston and Akiem Hicks are all being paid to do exactly that and need to produce soon.
White saw his first regular season action and to say it was a mixed bag would be putting it nicely.
In a game where he was listed as questionable with a hamstring injury, White played the most snaps of any receiver and saw the most targets (7), yet he had a 3rd-down drop and ran an incorrect route that led to an ugly interception.
White hadn’t played live football in more than 18 months, so it wasn't surprising he struggled. That said, in order for the team’s offense to take steps in the right direction, White needs to play at a much higher level.
It was only one game, so let's not overreact. Historically, the first week of the NFL season has proven to be highly unpredictable in terms of a player's production and potential, but Chicago's passing attack desperately needs White to quickly recover from a disappointing career debut.
It’s hard to fault Jeremy Langford for his 3.4 yards per carry but one has to wonder how long the coaching staff will let that slide before bringing in the “next man up."
Part of establishing a successful offense -- one in which you don't lose the time of possession battle by 12 minutes, as the Bears did in Week 1 -- is establishing a consistent ground game.
Outside of Cutler’s two scrambles and Ka’Deem Carey’s one touch, it was Langford’s show. He carried 17 times for 57 yards, which was far from ideal, but he did show flashes during a 15-yard and an 8-yard run, demonstrating his burst and one-cut ability.
Yet for Langford to take the next step, the offensive line must develop accordingly. Guards Josh Sitton and Kyle Long surrendered just one pressure in 37 pass blocking snaps, which is outstanding, but their work in the run game wasn't nearly as productive.
Chicago's offense has struggled to move the ball since the start of the preseason, so the second-half collapse against the Texans wasn't shocking, but in order to win games this year the offense needs to find a way to stay on the field and it all starts with running the ball.