This Week 2 matchup was … tough to watch, to say the least. The best offensive and defensive series came immediately to start the game.
In the first offensive series, the Bears started with an 11-play drive. It was shaping up to get the Bears some points. The Bears common theme was to overcome second and very long situations. After a Jordan Howard run up the middle to start the drive, they lost two yards, and the Bears were looking at a second-and-12. On that play, Mike Glennon found Kendall Wright on an underneath route to pick up seven yards. That put the Bears at third-and-5, in which they executed on a pass to Tarik Cohen.
Similarly, on the eighth play of the drive, the Bears were on the Tampa Bay 40-yard line. Again, a Howard run up the middle goes backwards, except this time for a three-yard loss. Facing a second-and-13 now, Glennon found Cohen to his left and picked up eight yards to get the Bears to a third-and-5 again. On that third down, Glennon was able to hit Zach Miller over the middle for a twelve yard gain.
Unfortunately, on the next play, Glennon threw a questionable pass to Dion Sims that was intercepted by Kwon Alexander to end the drive.
The Offensive Big Picture
Brandon, how can the best Bears’ offensive series be one that ends with an interception? Well, this series had the pace similar to what Bears had against the Falcons. A pace that included some urgency. Here’s what Glennon said in the press conference after the game about that interception,
It was kind of a quick gain concept that we run a good amount, and Kwon just broke on the play.”
Having that sense of urgency on the first drive of the game can be a positive if points can be put on the board. Scoring on the first drive can put pressure on the opposing offense to respond. That is what the Buccaneers did with their first drive. They put up three points right away, forcing the Bears to respond. The Bears were on pace to respond, they overcame a couple of negative plays and had a little urgency to score on the first drive. Unfortunately, it did not end with points. However, the concept is correct. The execution needs to improve moving forward.
Following that interception, how would the defense respond? The Bears’ defensive unit was facing adversity as the Buccaneers now had an extra possession.
The Bears’ defense forced a three and out. Jacquizz Rodgers picked up a yard on the first play with a run to the left. Then Jameis Winston found DeSean Jackson late but still picked up eight yards. On that play, Bryce Callahan jumped the route and nearly got his hands on the pass. Then on a third-and-1, Charles Sims ran up the middle and barely got back to the sticks. On third down, Akiem Hicks and Eddie Jackson broke through the line of scrimmage and stopped the run before it got going. Thus, forcing the three and out.
The Defensive Big Picture
That defensive series was important because at the time, it was still only a 3-0 game. Keeping the Buccaneers out of the end zone after a turnover established that the defense was not going to let the powerful Bucs offense walk all over them.
The next couple of defensive series were tough for the Bears to overcome. The next series started at the Bears 13-yard line, then the following series started at the Bears 35-yard line. Putting the defense in a situation with their backs against the wall right away is a tough task to handle. Let alone, twice in a row.
Being able to keep the opposing offense at bay after a turnover can keep the momentum of the game in the balance. That was evident after the misplayed punt by Cohen.
A. A special teams turnover created a big momentum swing.
B. The Buccaneers scored on the first play following that fumble, creating a bigger momentum swing.
That sequence of events turned the tide of the game. The momentum went from balanced, to feeling like the Bears were entirely out of the game. Overall, having a defense that limits the opposing offenses after a turnover is going to be crucial for the remainder of the season.