Four Downs: Keys to beating the Rams (11/15/15)

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A look at four keys for the Bears to beat the St. Louis Rams.

1. Stack the box and force the pass

St. Louis Rams running back Todd Gurley is fourth in the NFL in total rushing yards and is being touted as the next Adrian Peterson. If there is any truth to that comparison, the Bears are in for a world of hurt, as Peterson habitually shreds the Bears’ defense. The Bears need to focus on the run this week because the engine of the Rams’ offense runs almost solely on Gurley. The Rams are ranked dead last in the NFL in passing, averaging just 177.1 yards per game through the air. Quarterback Nick Foles offers the team very little, and I’d force him to beat me through the air if I were defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

2. Be mindful of the versatile Tavon Austin

It’s bad enough the Bears have to worry about defending the run against Gurley, but wide receiver Tavon Austin has had his fair share of carries this season, too. The speedy Austin has carried the ball 25 times for 207 yards, averaging 8.3 yards per carry and he has scored twice this year on rushing attempts. Austin also leads the Rams with 28 receptions for 300 yards and four receiving touchdowns. The Bears defense must stay disciplined on its assignments because one false step could lead to a score for Austin and the Rams.

3. Maintain strategy of steady ball control offense

The Bears’ strategy of rushing the ball consistently and using short and intermediate routes on passing plays has paid big dividends. Sure, they have but three wins this year, but they’ve been competitive in almost every one of them. Jay Cutler has been more careful with the ball as a result of these game plans and only has five interceptions this season. Yes, just five — which is what he’s thrown in just two games in prior seasons. The five interceptions are 9th-fewest among quarterbacks who have thrown at least 100 passes. There’s success in simplicity and the Bears have done well with it.

4. Must play better on special teams

Just when the Bears’ special teams coverage seemed to improve against the Chargers last week, the normally reliable Robbie Gould botched two field goals. Just once, I’d like to see that phase put together a complete game and let the offense and defense show that it can win games. The Rams are a sneaky good team. They have a solid defense and a good run game and while their quarterback is lousy, that’s still a formula to win games. The Bears special teams could do their entire team a service by playing well.

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