Mariucci Expecting Slugfest With Chicago

ALLEN PARK -- Coach Steve Mariucci called the Lions' season opener against Green Bay a "slugfest," so it's not difficult to figure out what he expects Sunday against the Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago.

More of the same. And maybe much more so.

"Yeah, they're a good defensive team," Mariucci said. "We know that. They're healthier than they were last year. Urlacher is back, and their safeties and corners - they're back fresh and healthy.

"They just have the quarterback issue that they're dealing with right now. They've been a good defense and they are a good defense. You saw that in the first game against Washington. Yeah, I suppose it might be another Black and Blue Division-type game."

Considering the difficulty the Lions had moving the ball against a rather average Packers defense, they could be facing an even tougher task moving against middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, strong safety Mike Brown and the rest of the highly-regarded Bears defense.

There is no doubt the Lions offense remains a work in progress. Although they are starting no rookies, they are still a young offensive team searching for an identity.

Quarterback Joey Harrington posted a 95.4 passer rating, good for ninth-best among NFL quarterbacks in the first weekend of the regular season. He threw two touchdown passes and was not intercepted, but his 167 yards passing was among the lowest in the NFL.

Wide receiver Roy Williams caught just two passes for 13 yards in the opening game, a total he would normally have posted in the first quarter.

And running back Kevin Jones carried 25 times for 87 yards, an average of 3.5 yards per carry, a full 1.2 yards per carry less than he averaged as a rookie running for 1,133 yards last year.

Harrington believes he knows what to expect from the Bears defense.

"Chicago's going to get that eighth guy up in the box," he said. "They're going to play more single safety, they're going to give us more routes on the outside and try to keep us from running the ball."

If the Lions can run the ball and move it consistently, they might be on their way to establishing something for the upcoming season.

"It's nice when you play well against those defenses and do what you plan on doing," Harrington said. "But you've also got to know that it is a great defense and the type of defense that will hold a team in a game, so if things don't go well for us on every play in the game, we've got to be solid enough in the head to know we've got to keep pushing and we're going to make those plays eventually. We've got too many guys out here for it not to work."

SERIES HISTORY: 151st meeting. The Bears hold an 83-62-5 lead in the series, which began in 1930 when the Lions were still playing in Portsmouth, Ohio. The Lions won at Soldier Field last year for the first time in four years, in the process of breaking their NFL-record 24-game road losing streak. They have won the last three games against Chicago.

Lions Report Top Stories