By Chris Emma–
(CBS) The Bears have lost six straight games to the Lions and are 3-14 at Soldier Field since the start of the 2014 season.
Can they change those fortunes on Sunday along the lakefront?
After skidding out of the gates to the tune of their second consecutive 0-3 start, Chicago is looking to find better play when it hosts its rivals from Detroit. The Bears have lost by two scores in each of their first three contests and have struggled on both sides of the football.
Sunday offers an important opportunity, with the Bears facing off against a foe with its own issues. The Lions have found some offensive firepower but have a depleted defense missing two key players.
So, what could come Sunday at Solider Field? Here’s what to watch for:
1.) Go deep
Whether it’s Jay Cutler or Brian Hoyer starting at quarterback, the Bears have the chance apart a depleted Lions defense. Defensive lineman Ziggy Ansah and linebacker DeAndre Levy aren’t expected to play, removing two key players from their defense.
It’s time for Loggains to get his passing attack going, utilizing Alshon Jeffery, Kevin White, Eddie Royal and Zach Miller with a more aggressive attack.
The Bears have been far too conservative offensively, not throwing the ball beyond 20 yards until the fourth quarter of Sunday’s contest with the Cowboys. They trailed 24-3 at halftime, yet Loggains still stuck to the conservative game.
It’s time for Loggains to get aggressive with his offense and take some shots with the big targets — especially with the Bears at 0-3.
2.) Building blocks
The Bears found a positive in Sunday’s loss, with their offensive line playing by far its best game. Hoyer was hit just once and not sacked at all. That hadn’t occurred since December 2014 in a 41-28 loss to the Cowboys. The Bears managed to open holes for the rushing attack, and Jordan Howard was the one to find them.
It’s Howard’s time Sunday, with the rookie out of Indiana taking charge of the rushing game in the absence of Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey.
Howard has just 12 NFL carries, so he’s far from anything proven. However, his flashes have left the Bears impressed.
As the Lions are without a full complement of defensive players, this should be a golden opportunity for the Bears’ offensive line to lead the charge. It’s up to Howard to find the holes and rack up the yardage.
3.) Feel the rush
Where’s that pass rush the Bears promised?
In Fangio, they have one of the game’s brightest defensive minds — a coordinator who has made a career out of attacking with a blitz. Still, the Bears haven’t been able to get home with the pressure.
Credit the quick releases of Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott, plus the Cowboys’ elite offensive line, but the Bears should be able to get to the quarterback.
Even with defensive lineman Eddie Goldman and linebacker Danny Trevathan out and edge rusher Lamarr Houston lost for the season, the Bears still have Akiem Hicks, Willie Young, Leonard Floyd and some rushers in the arsenal.
Speaking of Floyd, the Bears have invested heavily in his development, but this is far from a redshirt year. Fangio has tested Floyd with the chance to play a regular role. It hasn’t worked well to this point. Floyd has a half-sack but has mostly struggled to get through the protection and has failed in coverage, too.
Maybe Sunday can bring something new for the Bears’ struggling pass rush.