Four Downs: Keys to beating the Chiefs (12/04/11)

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Whoever starts at quarterback for the Chiefs won't be able to withstand heavy pressure from the Bears
Whoever starts at quarterback for the Chiefs won't be able to withstand heavy pressure from the Bears

A look at four keys for the Bears to beat the Kansas City Chiefs.

1. Send the attack dogs after the quarterback

No matter who lines up under center for the Chiefs on Sunday against the Bears, whether it be the abominable Tyler Palko or the former Bear Kyle Orton, the Bears need to unleash the dogs on them because the defense is not going to get burned by either player. The Chiefs run game has been struggling lately as they use a multi-back approach between Thomas Jones, Dexter McCluster, and Jackie Battle, and none of the three are all that impressive. The Chiefs are going to have to throw at some point in this game and if Rod Marinelli dials up some pressure, whether it be with extra blitzers, line stunts or different combinations along the defensive line, the Bears will make life miserable for Palko or Orton, resulting in an array of sacks, hurried throws and — if fortunate — interceptions.

2. Take more chances downfield early

The Bears seemed almost too cautious with Caleb Hanie last week against the Raiders and didn’t give him many chances to test his arm down the field. Because of the conservatism, the Raiders were afforded more opportunities to play aggressively at the line of scrimmage and send extra pressure. The run game was stifled early and Hanie wound up scrambling for his life. It’s important for the Bears to show a little more trust in Hanie because the offense has to keep the Chiefs defense honest in order to create more room for the run game, but Hanie has to make better decisions than he did in the first half against Oakland.

3. Continue 1-2 punch in the run game

Whatever Matt Forte’s problem has been in the last three weeks, he’s going to see his workload reduced until he starts playing more like the guy we saw in the first half of the season. The thing is, that wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Marion Barber saw his playing time increase against the Raiders and he took advantage of the opportunity by doing what he does best: hitting the holes hard and punishing those defenders in his way. The Bears haven’t seen this type of combination in the backfield since their Super Bowl season when Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson were giving defenses fits. Forte’s elusiveness and Barber’s toughness complement each other well and the Bears can use that to their advantage without Jay Cutler in the lineup.

4. Win the battle of field position

The Bears offense had enough of a challenge on its plate with a young Hanie starting his first NFL game last week. It didn’t help matters that the Raiders special teams had a terrific game and pinned the Bears deep in their own territory for most of the game. The Bears are going to have to do a better job in the third phase this week — and beyond — in order to give Hanie and the offense a shorter field with which to work. Even one less drive starting from inside the 20 could have helped last week. The chances of Hanie consistently leading 70-, 80- and 90-yard drives are slim. Likewise, the chances of the Chiefs doing the same aren’t good, either, and it’ll benefit the Bears to be mindful of field position this week.

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