The Chicago Bears are already in a must-win game in Week 2 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s a familiar and dark place for Bears fans; that feeling that the season is already falling apart in September.
The Bears can change that narrative quickly with a win at Tampa Bay. And let’s be honest, when the 2023 schedule was announced, this game was supposed to be a speed bump en route to Chicago’s Week 3 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs.
But the Bears’ frustrating loss to the Green Bay Packers in the opener, coupled with the Buccaneers upset win over the Minnesota Vikings, suddenly has Chicago as sizable underdogs on Sunday.
The anxiety surrounding this game is the best example of how recency bias impacts the NFL. Teams are judged by how they played the week before, regardless of the preseason hype early in the year, or in-season success as the weeks march on.
Remember: Sunday is Week 2. The Chicago Bears have only played one game. Sure, it was a horrendous showing, but it’s still only one game. We might be pleasantly surprised by an offense that drops 30 points and a defense led by Matt Eberflus that puts Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield in a blender.
About the whole “Eberflus calling plays” thing? No one knows what the personal reasons are that has defensive coordinator Alan Williams away from the team, and it goes without saying that we hope it’s nothing serious. But his absence gives Eberflus a chance to inject life into an otherwise flatlining pass rush. We’ll see if the Chicago Bears’ problems on defense have been Williams or the personnel with Eberflus at the helm Sunday.
Defense is only part of the equation that must be solved for a Bears’ win in Week 2. The offense must be more aggressive in the passing game and it must force targets to wide receiver DJ Moore.
Justin Fields admitted he was too conservative against the Packers and even went as far as to apologize to Bears fans for the offense’s lackluster showing. Fields is a gamer; I have a hunch he’s going to put the NFL on notice (again) that he’s one of the truly special talents in the league.
The Buccaneers defense will give Fields an opportunity to make plays. They gave up the second-most passing yards in the NFL in Week 1 and may not be ready to face the kind of rushing threat Fields poses after playing Kirk Cousins and his stationary playing style.
If the Chicago Bears want to save their season, they have to make a statement on Sunday. They can’t just win; they have to win convincingly.
Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I think they will.
BEARS 27, Buccaneers 10