Not too many matchups look favorable for the Bears as they prepare to face the undefeated New Orleans Saints. Cornerback Charles Tillman (groin/knee) is still ailing and now, an already thin defensive line will play with an injured Stephen Paea (toe) at the defensive tackle position.
The Saints currently rank No. 4 in overall offense and through four weeks of the season come into today's game with the No. 2 passing offense in the league. The Saints also boast the NFL’s seventh best scoring offense averaging 27 points a game. Unfortunately, the Bears defense has helped their offensive scoring average with interceptions for touchdowns, but they have also allowed points at an alarming rate.
Currently, the Bears have the seventh worst scoring defense in the NFL, allowing 28.5 points a game. Yes, only six teams fare worse than the Monsters of the Midway.
You want more stats? Here you go: The Bears' defense has allowed 114 points in four games, the highest point total since 2003. If you forget 2003, let me remind you. Dick Juaron was the head coach. Conversely, the Saints defense has done a complete 180 under new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. In 2012 under Steve Spagnuolo’s guidance, the Saints gave up 130 points their first four games. Under Ryan, the Saints have surrendered only 57 points through four games. Do the math; it’s only 12.5 points a game!
How do the Bears tip the scale in their favor?
Run the ball. It is the only way to even up this matchup. I know it sounds boring but winning isn’t. It’s where the Saints are weakest and not very good at stopping. If New Orleans' opponents would not abandon the run so quickly, the Saints would give up far more than 112 yards a game. The Saints DL is also ailing without DT Brodrick Bunkley (calf), but overall the Saints are undersized outside of rookie nose tackle John Jenkins who is a legit 330 lbs.
[RELATED: Bears-Saints: And the winner is...]
The problem when facing the Saints is their scoring offense takes most teams out of this game plan when they panic, abandon running the football, and then try to play catch up throwing it. When this is the case, Ryan has you right where he wants you. An offense will see multiple packages with nickel and dime personnel with an array of blitzes and coverages.
Don't allow Ryan to dictate
This is a great game for “heavy” personnel offensively. “Heavy” personnel are two or three TE sets. The Bears have utilized OT Eben Britton in three TE sets already this season. As a swing tackle, Britton is a good option to turn to in these sets if the Bears really want to pound the football. Short yardage and goal line running back Michael Bush should also play a big role this weekend for the Bears. Matt Forte and Bush should rotate throughout the first half, but if the game plan is executed effectively, Bush should own the Saints defense come second half.
The Bears need to force Ryan’s hand and dictate his personnel. Ryan would have three choices:
1. Blitz heavy personnel with his nickel or dime personnel. Really not a good move because the Bears have the wide receivers to beat his secondary and it also plays into the Bears favor in pass protection.
2. Bring in extra defensive lineman. Great! The Saints are without Bunkley. Next man up for the Saints is DE Glenn Foster or DE Tom Johnson. Each is about 280 lbs.
3. Bring in extra linebacker. Also a mismatch against “heavy” sets.
Ideally the Bears want to score first. It will instill confidence in the team, but they cannot abandon the plan even if the Saints are up two scores. Keep pounding away, control the clock, and score! It will wear on the Saints and rest a vulnerable Bears defense. It will also minimize Saints head coach Sean Payton rolling out all his offensive personnel groupings to expose the Bears defense. Payton already has his plan. It was on tape last week when the Bears faced the Lions. If you didn’t know, the Saints got rid of Reggie Bush for Darren Sproles. Bush terrorized the Bears for over 100 yards in the first half alone. Sproles is better.