With 2 games left in the 2020/2021 NFL season, the Bears are just one game behind the Arizona Cardinals in the playoff race. After a divisional win, the Bears head into Jacksonville to face the 1-13 Jaguars, who have placed themselves into the Trevor Lawrence lottery with a Jets win over the Rams on Sunday.
With the Bears offensive line getting healthier by the week, they have completely turned around the offense with the help of new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and his new offensive mechanics. For just the second time in Bears history, the Bears are coming off of back to back to back 30 point performances. For once in the Matt Nagy era, the offense looks like they have turned a corner with help from David Montgomery who is red hot right now. He has only rushed for less than 70 yards once in the past 5 five games, and has ran for over 100 in three of those games in that stretch, while putting up 5 touchdowns also.
So, how have the Bears been doing this?
Bill Lazor has done two things that Matt Nagy has failed to do in his two-plus year tenure in Chicago, those things being the following: firstly, Lazor has established a dominant rushing attack, after inheriting the play calling duties to one of, if not the worst rushing attacks in the NFL. The new rushing success can be attributed to the play design, Lazor has installed many philosophies from some of the most dominant run games in recent memory, using components of the 2018 Rams, and the 2019 Ravens. Lazor has taken the singleback look with motion at the line of scrimmage that Gurley and McVay revolutionized in 2018. The motion at the line creates a sense of misdirection for the linebackers, which has been killing defense for the past 3 years.
By motioning a receiver behind the QB it makes the linebackers look at more things than just the running back, and it also sets up the jet sweep as a counter. One of the unsung heroes of this new run game has to be quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, Trubisky adds another element to the offense in the run game because now teams have to worry about him pulling it and running it himself, something that didn’t exist under Foles’ control. In addition to this added element, Trubisky also has been running play action well. Not only has Lazor implemented a dominant run game and scheme, but for once in my time watching the Bears, we finally have an offensive identity. Matt Nagy has failed to give this offense an identity, strongly due to his philosophy that he talks frequently about switching up the game plan every week.
What has to happen for the Bears to make the Playoffs?
In order for the Bears to make the playoffs they just need to have the same record or a better record than the Cardinals, as they do hold the tiebreaker over Arizona. The Cardinals face the 49ers next week, this game definitely has trap game potential as the 49ers are a well coached team coming off of a pair of embarrassing losses, they will be definitely looking for some revenge, not to mention that they will be getting star tight end George Kittle back. Even though I meant everything I said, I wouldn’t bet on this game ending in a Cardinals loss. The best chance comes in week 17 vs the LA Rams, I think the Rams are legit and are currently my pick to make it out of the NFC. The Bears could also have life easier with a Rams and Packers win that would set the Seahawks out of range to get the first round bye and have the Packers rest their starters vs the Bears in week 17.
All of these things might not even matter if the Bears don’t win first, the Bears need to work out the defensive kinks before worrying about a Cardinals loss, defense which was a strongpoint of the team in the beginning of the year has been a struggle recently after allowing 25 or more points in three of the last four games. The Bears might also be without standout rookie corner, Jaylon Johnson against the Jaguars and maybe even the Packers, even though Matt Nagy labeled Johnson as “day to day” he didn’t practice at all last week. Long story short, if the Bears want to have a chance at playoff football, they’re gonna need to workout the defensive problems and ride the flames on the offensive ball.
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