Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay, the St. Rita product from Northern Illinois who had a breakout season in 2018 (70 catches, 1,063 yards, five touchdowns) has taken the next step with a big first half in 2019.
The 6-4, 214-pound Golladay has been Matthew Stafford’s go-to big-play receiver, with 35 receptions for 640 yards (18.3 avg.) and a league-leading seven touchdowns. He has 12 receptions of 20 or more yards, including a 66-yard play against the Packers and touchdown catches of 59 and 41 yards.
Bears cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara have been pretty solid all season, especially at defending the big play. The Bears have allowed 20 pass plays of 20 or more yards — tied for the fifth fewest in the NFL.
Golladay was productive in both games against the Bears last season — six catches for 78 yards and a touchdown at Soldier Field (with most of the damage after the Bears led 26-0); and five catches for 90 yards, including a 43-yard play, at Ford Field.
The Bears’ defense has lost some of its bite in the four-game losing streak — a downturn that has coincided with the absence of injured Pro Bowl defensive end Akiem Hicks.
In their first four games (including the Vikings game in Week 4, when neither Hicks nor Roquan Smith played), the Bears had 17 sacks for 143 yards in losses (8.4 yards per sack). In the last four, they have six sacks for 26 yards in losses (4.3 yards per sack).
It’s the same story with takeaways: The Bears had eight in their first four games, but just three in their last four.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Tight end Trey Burton’s season typifies the Bears’ offensive struggles. Recovering from a groin injury that kept him out of the playoff game last season, Burton hasn’t been the same player he was last year. But the Bears insist he’s getting there.
Burton had no receptions against the Eagles last week. He has 14 catches for 84 yards and no touchdowns in seven games this season — a pace for 31 catches for 180 yards and no touchdowns this season. Burton had 54 receptions for 569 yards and six touchdowns last season.
“We went to training camp and he just wasn’t right,” coach Matt Nagy said. “We felt we wanted to pull back and now we’re gradually trying to get him back. He’s been playing better and better each week. Do I think he’s 100 percent yet? No, I don’t. [His production] hasn’t been nearly as much as we want it to. Between everything else that’s going on … that’s definitely a part that we would like to improve at.”
The Bears are in desperation mode to keep their faint playoff hopes alive and facing the 3-4-1 Lions at home is an absolute must-win game. They consistently raised their game to meet challenges last year, but not so much this season. If they still have that edge, this is the time to show it.