Jaguars at Bears: Game Preview

The Jacksonville Jaguars head to the Windy City to take on the Chicago Bears.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Chicago Bears
Sunday, December 6, 2008, 1pm EST
Soldier Field

Records:
Jacksonville 4-8, Chicago 6-6

Series history: Tied at 2. Last meeting, Jaguars won 22-3 in Jacksonville (2004).

The Jaguars dropped yet another game in Houston, 30-17, despite outgaining the Texans by nearly 100 yards. The Bears were beat down by division rival Minnesota, 34-14.


Chicago offense 23rd overall (24th passing, 14th rushing); Scoring- 16th – 23.4 ppg. vs. Jacksonville defense 14th overall (13th passing, 20th rushing); Scoring- 20th- 22.5 ppg.

The Bears have finally settled on a quarterback and it's Kyle Orton. Although Orton's numbers are pedestrian, 192-327, 2195 yards, 13 TD's/7 INT's, he has shown some flashes of brilliance.

Chicago loves to run the ball and the Bears running back curse seems to be over with the emergence of rookie back Matt Forte. Forte has speed and power, and leads the team with 248 rushes for 1012 yards and six TD's already this year.

The Bears receivers have potential, but are far from proven stars. All-World return man Devin Hester has added the dimension of speed to the outside for the Bears, and he leads the team with 442 receiving yards. Running back Matt Forte leads the team with 48 receptions (358 yards, 4 TD's), second-year tight end Greg Olsen has 34 catches for 398 yards, and wideout Rashied Davis could cause problems with his ability to adjust to the ball in air. Davis has 31 receptions for 396 yards and two TD's.

The Jaguars front four has had major issues rushing the passer this year as rookies Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves haven't contributed much, and Paul Spicer and Reggie Hayward are on the down sides of their careers. The interior of the Jags defensive line has been underwhelming this season as John Henderson isn't the player he once was, and the combo of Tony McDaniel, Rob Meier, and Derek Landri are little more than average.

The Jaguars linebackers were supposed to be a strength this season, but have also underachieved. The unit has been better since middle linebacker Mike Peterson was moved to the bench, and Daryl Smith has slid to the middle position, but they've missed far too many tackles.

The Jags secondary has been disappointing, but has played much better lately since Brian Williams was moved from strong safety back to cornerback. Rashean Mathis was playing at a high level, but he will miss the rest of the season and free agent acquisition Drayton Florence has been terrible, and was moved from starting corner to nickel. Safety Reggie Nelson has an aversion to contact, and he's found himself out of position several times this season.

Best offensive matchup for Chicago: Greg Olsen vs. Justin Durant- The tall, speedy Bears tight end should be able to expose the seam of the Jaguars defense.

Best defensive matchup for Jacksonville: Gerald Sensabaugh vs. Matt Forte- The Jaguars strong safety will have to spend a lot of his time in the box to stop the dynamic rookie rusher, and Sensabaugh is more than capable.


Jacksonville offense 21st overall (17th passing, 17th rushing); Scoring- 24th 20.1 ppg. vs. Chicago defense 16th overall (29th passing, 6th rushing); Scoring- 19th – 22.3 ppg.

The Jaguars offense has a threat of a great running game, but teams have neutralized the talented duo of Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor by placing extra men in the box and mostly playing cover one. Jones-Drew leads the team in rushing with 552 yards while averaging 4.2 ypc., with 11 touchdowns. Taylor has 503 yards while getting just 3.9 ypc.

Quarterback David Garrard is looking more and more like a one-year wonder as he tends to hold the ball too long, looks at his first read then checks down, and hasn't been particularly careful with the football. Garrard has completed 63.6% of his throws for 2748 yards, but has just 10 touchdown passes and nine interceptions. He hasn't been strong enough to get opposing teams to keep their safeties away from the line of scrimmage.

The Jags best receiving threat is wide receiver Matt Jones, who has 54 catches for 623 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew is second on the team with 40 catches for 393 yards, and tight end Marcedes Lewis has 26 catches for 347 yards and two touchdowns.

Chicago has a very solid front four led by defensive tackle Tommie Harris, and pass rushers Adewale Ogunleye and Alex Brown. The linebackers are the real playmakers in the Bears "D", as they are led by perennial Pro Bowler Brian Urlacher and the great Lance Briggs. Youngster Nick Roach has stepped in and done a solid job as well.

The Bears secondary has struggled against the pass this year, as evidenced by their 29th ranking. Charles Tillman and Nathan Vasher are the corners, and Keith Payne and Mike Brown are at safety. Tillman and Vasher have been beat often, and Brown doesn't seem like the same player he was a few years ago.

Best offensive matchup for Jacksonville: Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Nick Roach- If the Jaguars can get Jones-Drew more involved in the passing game on the outside, they should have a nice advantage.

Best defensive matchup for Chicago: Tommie Harris vs. Brad Meester- The interior of the Jags line is no match for one of the best tackles in the game.


Special Teams

Chicago: PK Robbie Gould, P Brad Maynard, LS Patrick Mannelly, KOR Devin Hester

Jacksonville: PK Josh Scobee, P Steve Weatherford, LS Joe Zelenka, KOR Brian Witherspoon, PR Brian Witherspoon


Special teams advantage: The Jaguars have solid coverage units, and they will be tested against the best return man in the game. Chicago has the advantage at both punter and kicker. Special teams seems to tilt in the Bears favor.


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