The Bears have been crummy at home lately, to say the least. Last season, John Fox’s group posted a franchise worst 1-7 record at Soldier Field.
It’s time to put the past behind them and coming off an up and down performance in Sunday’s 23-14 loss in Houston, the Bears should be happy to be back in Chicago.
There will be a lot to improve on, but the offense showed some nice progress early on in the day while the defense held its own for much of the afternoon, especially in the redzone.
Much more than the skilled players, the battle in the trenches needs to be a point of emphasis and improvement this week. It was a struggle there for the most part.
Here are my five players to watch in Monday night’s matchup against the Eagles.
LB Lamarr Houston
Third-year Bears linebacker Lamarr Houston is a veteran for this defense, but in the opener against the Texans, he didn’t see the field much. Houston earned 27 snaps which was good for just 36 percent of the total defensive snaps on the day.
He recorded four tackles (2 solo stops). Willie Young and Leonard Floyd were the starting outside backers with Pernell McPhee recovering on the PUP list. Floyd led the group with six tackles and a half a sack. Young failed to record a tackle while Sam Acho earned 15 snaps, making one tackle.
Expect a turnaround performance from Houston against the Eagles. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio will bring pressure against rookie quarterback Carson Wentz and Houston should be a big factor. The seventh-year pro has six sacks in 11 career prime time games.
WR Alshon Jeffery
The Bears No. 1 wide receiver had a fine afternoon in the opener with four receptions for 104 yards. It marked the 13th time in his career where Alshon Jeffery totaled 100 yards or more in a game. It was the second time that he was able to do that in just four catches.
Jeffery’s 54-yard reception late in the second quarter was pure brilliance. He didn’t bring in either target in the second half and was taken out of the game as Houston used a safety over the top on him. This week though, he will see plenty of youngsters Ron Brooks and rookie Jalen Mills with Leodis McKelvin likely out.
DE Jonathan Bullard
I really liked what I saw in third round rookie Jonathan Bullard all preseason long and in the opener even though he earned only 17 defensive snaps. He may not have recorded a tackle or a sack, but Bullard had one of the team’s eight quarterback hits.
Mitch Unrein is the starter, but he lined up for only 38 snaps while Cornelius Washington mixed in with 14 snaps. The team loves Bullard’s progression and he has some serious burst that the team needs to showcase much more. Bullard should see the field more against a young Eagles bunch.
S Adrian Amos
Second-year safety Adrian Amos was one of three Bears’ defenders who played all 75 defensive snaps last week along with cornerback Tracy Porter and linebacker Danny Trevathan. Amos had five tackles including one for a loss while his partner in crime in the secondary, Harold Jones-Quartey had four tackles.
Amos and Jones-Quartey were steady in the secondary, but they should expect more deep balls against Wentz. Amos has yet to create a turnover in 17 games with the team, but he is due and it could come on Monday night. He’s been steady since arriving as a fifth-round selection last year.
T Bobby Massie
The Bears’ offensive line struggled late in Sunday’s loss allowing a total of 13 quarterback hits and five sacks of Jay Cutler on the day. First-year Bears right tackle Bobby Massie allowed the second-most pressures among any offensive lineman in Week 1 with six, per Real Football Network. Rookie center Cody Whitehair finished fifth on that list with four.
Massie had 46 starts to his name before coming over to the Bears this off-season on a three-year, $18 million deal ($6.5 million guaranteed). However, he looked like a weak link against a tough Texans front. This week, Massie will face two steady pros in defensive ends Brandon Graham and Connor Barwin. It’s up to him to be better. The Bears need him to be.
Who will you be watching?
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