Bears vs. Lions: What to Watch 4
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Virtually every player in the Lions’ protection scheme was victimized last week as quarterback Matthew Stafford was sacked 10 times in a 24-6 loss to the Vikings.
“It was kind of interesting because they really hadn’t given up many [sacks] prior to that [13 in seven games], so it’s probably a little bit of an anomaly there,” Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “And the Vikings didn’t do anything special to get them, other than they did a really good job of rushing their four guys. So I don’t see it being a trend for them, but we’ll see.”
The Lions figure to shore up that weakness this week, but the Bears still should have an opportunity to do some damage. They have 12 players with at least one sack, led by linebacker Khalil Mack (five) and defensive end Akiem Hicks (three).
The Bears have dropped from first in the NFL to eighth in sacks per pass play since Mack suffered an ankle injury against the Dolphins in Week 6. But they had four sacks last week against the Bills, and Mack is expected to return Sunday. Lions right tackle Rick Wagner, burned by Danielle Hunter twice last week, likely will need help against Mack.
“I know our guys here are licking their chops in watching that film,” Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara said.
Stafford is 9-1 in his last 10 games against the Bears, with a 93.0 passer rating (17 touchdowns, nine interceptions). But seven of the nine victories have been by a touchdown or less (three, three, four, three, six, two and eight points).
Last year, the Bears sacked Stafford four times at Soldier Field and three times at Ford Field and lost those games 20-10 and 27-24.
Player to watch
Bears rookie linebacker Roquan Smith, the eighth overall pick in the 2018 draft, had 13 tackles (11 solo) and is becoming more and more of an impact player each game.
“You have to remember, the guy missed all of training camp, got no preseason reps, so he’s a guy that should steadily improve week to week — and he has been,” Fangio said.
The Bears had uneven offensive line play last week in their first game without injured right guard Kyle Long. With Eric Kush and Bryan Witzmann rotating in Long’s spot, the Bears allowed only one sack but averaged 2.6 yards per carry on the ground. Left tackle Charles Leno had three false starts, and rookie left guard James Daniels was called for holding.
It was a tough task without Long, especially on the road and against a strong Bills defensive front. Against a Lions defense that leads the NFL in sacks per pass play, the Bears will be challenged to tighten things up at home.