A look at four keys for the Bears to beat the San Diego Chargers.
1. Get to the quarterback. Get to the quarterback. Get to the quarterback.
Have I not made myself clear? The Bears are in the position they’re in right now at 2-5 because they have not consistently gotten to opponents’ quarterbacks. Mediocre Teddy Bridgewater and the Minnesota Vikings stole one from the Bears this past week because the Bears couldn’t drop him in the backfield. Things aren’t going to get any easier this week against the NFL’s current leading passer. Philip Rivers has 2,753 yards to lead all passers. The good news is that he’s been sacked 19 times this year, eighth-most in the NFL. The only way the Bears are going to have a shot is if they make life rough for Rivers.
2. Mix in a few deep shots with ball-control offense
Normally I wouldn’t advocate slinging the ball all over the field on the road, but the Bears might have some opportunities to take their shots this week. While I still believe their best shot to win is a ball-control offense that dominates the time of possession, the Chargers defense has been beaten deep a number of times this year. San Diego has given up seven pass plays of 40-plus yards, which is tied for fifth-most in the NFL. Opposing quarterbacks have averaged a 102.5 passer rating and average 8.2 yards per pass attempt, both of which are among the bottom six in the NFL. With Alshon Jeffery back healthy and playing like the No. 1 we all thought — and hoped — he would be, he could have another big game in this one.
3. Keep the ball out of play on special teams
By a show of hands, how many Bears fans miss Dave Toub even more now than they did when Joe DeCamillis was roaming the sideline under Marc Trestman? John Fox brought current special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers with him from Denver, but Rodgers’ units have allowed three special teams touchdowns this season and it appears to be an utter disaster. The Bears now have to resort to playing schoolyard ball and using trickery and gimmicks to get the upper hand in that phase of the game. I wouldn’t kick the ball to any kick or punt returner for the rest of the season, or at least until they think they’ve got enough competent coverage skills.
4. Protect the football
A prime time game on the road is one of the toughest environments to play in. The Chargers are near the bottom of the league with a minus-6 turnover ratio. Their defense has just four interceptions on the season. Teams that win the turnover battle generally have a much better shot at winning the game. The Bears can’t give the football to Rivers and the Chargers’ offense with a short field. With Matt Forte hobbled by a knee injury, rookie Jeremy Langford will get a big workload, and needless to say, the coaching staff is preaching ball security to him.