Bear Necessities: Bears look to bounce back against the Buccaneers

Welp, last week sucked. The Bears fell flat in one of the most highly anticipated contests in recent memory. The 38-20 shellacking at the hands of their rival Packers felt like much more than a run-of-the-mill Week One blowout, as the Jordan Love era began the same way the Aaron Rodgers era ended; with pure dominance. Nevertheless, there is plenty of season left to prove the offseason hype wasn't unfounded. With that said, this week's matchup against the Buccaneers has become somewhat of a must-win, considering they have a road matchup with Kansas City on the horizon.

The Bears could risk derailing the train off the track with another loss on Sunday, and they must avoid that situation at all costs. Narrowing down the keys to a Chicago victory seems significantly more difficult this week, which is a testament to how awful last week's performance was. They must improve virtually every facet of the game to ensure a win against Tampa Bay, but a few necessities stand out when analyzing the matchup.

Establish the deep passing game. 

Last week's offensive performance speaks volumes about what Luke Getsy thinks about the state of the Bears offensive line, as they threw a copious amount of screen passes and only attempted four passes beyond 10 yards. If they want to have more success on the offensive side of the ball against Tampa, they need to develop their deep passing game. Kirk Cousins threw for nearly 350 yards on the Bucs' defense last week, indicating they can be exploited through the air.

While Justin Fields' growth in the short passing game has seemingly taken a step forward this offseason, no one has ever questioned his ability to hit the deep ball. Likewise, there is no doubt that the Bears have a talented group of pass-catchers. Say what you will about Chase Claypool's blocking ability, but he is six-foot-four, runs the 40 in 4.4 seconds, and has shown flashes of being a dominant jump ball receiver throughout his career. Meanwhile, Darnell Mooney, who has proven to have a solid rapport with Fields, has been even more effective as a deep ball specialist, and DJ Moore's body of work speaks for itself. Throwing the ball deep shouldn't have been nearly as difficult as they made it seem last week.

Get DJ Moore involved in the offense. 

Speaking of DJ Moore, Luke Getsy must make a concerted effort to get their shiny new weapon involved in the passing game. The fact that the Bears' top pass-catcher only had two targets despite Chicago being down throughout the entire contest is inexcusable. He has proven to be lethal with the ball in his hands throughout his career. All they need to do is get it there (please, for the love of God, via something other than a bubble screen).

It's not hard for offenses to scheme their talented playmakers open, and the quicker the Bears accomplish that task with Moore, the better off they will be. A more effective Moore will make things easier for everyone else in the offense, as defenses will have to commit more attention to him. In the meantime, it feels safe to say he will see quite a bit of single coverage, as the Buccaneers defense is one of the most blitz-heavy units in the league. Moore has been a thorn in their side throughout his tenure in Carolina and most recently had 117 yards and a touchdown against them in Week 16 last year. He could have a repeat performance if the offensive line holds up better than last week (it's honestly hard to imagine they could be much worse).

Slow down Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.

It should come as no surprise that the Bucs' offense ran through Evans and Godwin in their Week One clash against Minnesota. However, the fact that they accounted for nearly three-fourths of their receiving yards is quite an imposing statistic. The Bears need to keep them in check if they want to come out on top, as they will be in for a long day if the Bucs can replicate the long, sustained drives that Green Bay had last week. They need to get off the field on third down, and slowing down their elite pass-catching duo will go a long way in that regard.

There is no way around it; Chicago has to play to the best of their ability to accomplish this goal. Jaylon Johnson is well equipped to match up with Evans, but Godwin will have an advantageous matchup with whoever they decide to slide into Kyler Gordon's role in the slot. The second-year cornerback landed on Injured Reserve with a hand injury earlier this week, and this is a matchup where he will certainly be missed. They might move Tyrique Stevenson into the slot, but fifth-round selection Terell Smith could also be getting his first taste of NFL action against one of the game's most potent slot receivers in Godwin.

Game prediction: 

Last week's game had to be the most 'Chicago Bears' way to start a season in Bears history. Just when you thought they were going places, they had a performance that reminded everyone this was the team with a league-worst 3-14 record last year. They dashed fans' excitement with a flat-out terrible performance that was even worse than the score indicated.

They may have taken it on the chin last week, but it is important to remember that it was only one game in a long season. In fact, the heartbreaking loss was reminiscent of the Week One loss against Green Bay in 2018, which went on to be their best season of the previous decade. Unfortunately, it was also eerily similar to the Week One clash against their rivals the following year.. but that doesn't fit my narrative. I'M TRYING TO REMAIN POSITIVE! Call it blind intuition, but I think they will feel enough urgency to squeak out a close victory on the road. 

Bears win 23-20

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