A look at four keys for the Bears to beat the Houston Texans.
1. Get rid of the ball quickly
The Texans have one of the top defenses in the league and one that will bring immense pressure all game. Led by defensive end J.J. Watt and outside linebackers Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney, the Bears can expect quite a bit of heat coming from the outside. New guard Josh Sitton and his counterpart, Kyle Long, will have their hands full with mammoth nose tackle Vince Wilfork. The best way to neutralize an attacking defense is to not give them time to reach the quarterback. That kind of game plan includes lots of run plays, quick screens, and three-yard drops from Jay Cutler.
2. Dictate the tempo
It’s no secret that John Fox teams are ones that like to jump out to a quick lead and then ground and pound for the remainder of the game. The Bears have a trio of running backs that figure to factor into the game plan in starter Jeremy Langford, backup Ka’Deem Carey and rookie Jordan Howard. With the addition of Sitton, the interior of the Bears line just got a lot better and should pave some running lanes even against a massive force like Wilfork. Once the Bears determine what they want to do, whether it be a no-huddle or quick-huddle offense, quick-strike passes or lots of runs, they have to stick to it and keep the Texans defense on its heels.
3. Limit mistakes, penalties, and turnovers
Playing on the road is never an easy task particularly in the first game of the season. The Bears haven’t had to deal with starting the season on the road since the Lovie Smith regime. It’s going to get loud and raucous down in Houston and the Bears have to limit the amount of mental mistakes they make. It’s important to take the crowd out of the game early and give them something to think about. Cutler had a great season a year ago under former offensive coordinator Adam Gase, where he limited his turnovers and played efficiently. Now would be an awful time to revert to turnover-prone Jay.
4. Cut down Brock Osweiler’s time to throw
It’s no secret that the strength of the Bears defense is the front seven. The team made plenty of moves in both free agency and the draft to address those positions and they actually have a competitive advantage on the first two levels. Unfortunately, as defensive coordinator Vic Fangio alluded to, the secondary remains a work in progress and could give the Bears a world of hurt this year. The Texans have a group of fast, dynamic receivers led by DeAndre Hopkins and rookie Will Fuller, who ran a 4.32 40-yard dash. The Bears have to get to the quarterback or else the Texans passing game will do some major damage against the Bears’ defensive backfield.