When the Bears take the field in Toronto on Nov. 7, they will have had two weeks to prepare and form a game plan for the worst team in football in the Buffalo Bills. They’ll face a team that has given up an average of 33 points per game, worst in the NFL. They’ll have the opportunity to run the ball against the worst run defense in the league and, yes, a defense that has three fewer sacks than the Bears have recorded.
But the Bears find themselves in a precarious, no-win situation against Buffalo. Lose to the winless Bills, and the doors at Halas Hall will be stormed by an angry mob of Bears fans. Win, and nothing has really been solved.
We’ve seen this scenario before, in Week 5 against the Panthers. Carolina had one of the worst run defenses in the league and the Bears ran the ball more than 40 times to the tune of 218 yards. What did offensive coordinator Mike Martz say this week? He was going to try to get Matt Forte and Chester Taylor more involved in the game plan, sometimes including them in the backfield at the same time.
It’s conceivable that the Bears will churn out better than 150 yards on the ground this week against Buffalo, but does that mean that Martz has changed his ways and will continue running the ball regularly for the rest of the season? Not likely. He’ll go right back to passing the ball the following week against Minnesota.
Should the Bears happen to beat a team they’re supposed to beat, I’m not so sure any of us would feel like they accomplished much. Ultimately, the only thing that matters is another win in the standings, but the Bears face some tough opponents in the second half of their season and I’d feel much more comfortable if I knew that the Bears could protect Jay Cutler better than they did in the first half of the year. One way to do that, which would also make me feel better, is if they ran the ball more or at least got the ball out of Cutler’s hands before a big, angry defensive lineman flattens him on the turf.
Despite the fact the Bills took the Baltimore Ravens, one of the best teams in football, into overtime last week, they’re still a bad football team. All it means is that the Bears are capable of becoming the first victim of a team that has a legitimate shot at going 0-16. But with two weeks to prepare, I’d have a hard time believing that Martz couldn’t devise a plan to pick apart the Bills.
Then again, if they do just that, do we really know if the Bears have solved any problems during their bye week?