Halas Intrigue Bears Report: Previewing Week 11 vs. Rams

The Bears’ offense showed signs of life in the victory over the Lions last week, but it’ll take a step up in class against a much more formidable Rams defense.

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Matt Nagy and the Bears will try to return to .500 with a win Sunday.

Matt Rourke/AP Photo

The good: The Bears will face a Rams offense that has hit the skids. It only accounted for a field goal in a 17-12 loss against the Steelers last week, and quarterback Jared Goff has a passer rating (82.7) lower than Mitch Trubisky’s (85.2)

The bad: Rookie running back David Montgomery “lightly” rolled his ankle in practice Wednesday, according to coach Matt Nagy, and sat out practice Thursday. Nagy couldn’t say whether Montgomery would be able to play Sunday.

The ugly: The Bears have failed to take advantage of the extra attention offenses are paying to linebacker Khalil Mack. In the first four games of the season, the Bears had 17 sacks and 23 tackles for loss. In the last five, they’ve had eight sacks and nine tackles for loss.

Let’s get to it ...

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Offense: Something To Build On?

While Mitch Trubisky didn’t exactly put up fireworks against the Lions, a three-touchdown, zero-turnover day took some weight off his shoulders. This Sunday, he can further boost his confidence against the team he struggled most against last season.

The Rams held Trubisky to just 110 passing yards with one touchdown and three interceptions for a career-low 33.3 passer rating last season. If he can shake off those memories and build off last week’s performance against the Aaron Donald-led crew that bottled him up a year ago, it could go a long way toward getting him back where he needs to be mentally, Patrick Finley writes.

Did you know?

Defense: Tables turning with turnovers

A year after leading the NFL with 36 takeaways, including a league-high 27 interceptions, the Bears are middle-of-the-pack with 12 takeaways through 10 games. It’s a big step back from a year ago.

That’s been noticed by ballhawking safety Eddie Jackson, who admitted “it’s getting stressful” waiting his first pick of the season, Jason Lieser writes. “It’s gonna come. That’s all I keep telling myself,” Jackson said.

Did you know?

  • However, the Bears probably shouldn’t be surprised by this development. “The number of turnovers a team creates in one season has no bearing on how many turnovers the team will create in the next. Both interceptions and fumbles are completely unpredictable from season to season at the team level,” FiveThirtyEight noted in an analysis of past NFL defenses.
  • When the Rams visited the Bears in Week 14 last season, they had by far their worst offensive showing of the season in a 15-6 loss. But this Bears defense isn’t the same as that one, and despite the Rams’ struggles on offense, the Bears will need to raise their game, Rick Morrissey writes, with Khalil Mack not putting up the numbers he did last year.

Special Teams: Pineiro isn’t getting his kicks

The Bears’ struggles on offense have limited kicker Eddy Pineiro’s opportunities. He’s tied for 19th in the NFL with 15 field-goal attempts, of which he has made 12. Pineiro also is tied for 22nd in the league among kickers with 52 points.

Did you know?

  • Rams kicker Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein — aka “Legatron” — is tied for the second-longest field goal of the season, 58 yards. The Cowboys’ Brett Maher has the longest at 63. Zuerlein is 4-for-5 on kicks of 50 yards or more this season. His career long is 61, set in 2015.

What They’re Saying

  • Rams coach Sean McVay on the impact of former Packers star Clay Matthews: “He’s made a big difference. ... A really versatile player — very similar to [safety Eric] Weddle, what he provides on the front end in terms of the experience, playing all over the front. He’s been an all-pro inside linebacker as well. He’s seen so many different things.”
  • McVay on facing adversity for the first time as an NFL coach: “I would be lying to say that this hasn’t been more challenging. But that’s also why there’s a motivation to make sure to do right and to use this as an opportunity to try to respond in the way that you challenge your players and everybody else to.

From Our Notebooks

What’s Next?

After their trip to Los Angeles, the Bears return home for a Week 12 matchup against the Giants, who have lost six consecutive games entering their bye this weekend. Four days later, they take the field in Detroit for a Thanksgiving Day showdown against the Lions for the second straight year.

On the Podcast

In the latest edition of Halas Intrigue, the hosts discuss whether there’s any potential interest from the Bears in Colin Kaepernick. And are they the least likely team in the entire NFL to go against the current on that one?

Also, got any questions for the Bears? Email us or tweet at @suntimes_sports and we’ll see if we can get them answered in one of our next newsletters.

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