It is almost too easy to overlook the Lions in Week 1 of the upcoming season. In the past two years, the Bears swept the Lions, but if you think about the past 2 seasons and their surprisingly underwhelming performances in their season debuts, if the Bears come out looking sharp in both openers you would see them being one game away from a playoff berth in 2020, and having a bye week in 2019, to avoid the infamous “double doink”.
That right there is the simple beauty of this week one matchup, you win the games in the fall to not have that pressure in the winter.
In the Bears’ week one matchup they will get to see Matthew Stafford, a guy who hasn’t seen action since November 3rd of 2019. The expectations have been at an all-time high for Stafford as many believe that he was in for an “MVP caliber season” in 2019 before getting injured. Considering this, Stafford’s confidence will be at an all-time high, but so will the rust.
Taking this into consideration, the Bears should try to follow the guidelines that Bill Belicheck laid out when facing a “rusty” Sam Darnold in what turned out to be one of the worst performances of all time for a quarterback. How exactly did Belicheck make Darnold “see ghosts” as he once famously put it?
It is simply this.
Make Matthew Stafford familiar with how the dirt tastes, and then force him into not trusting his eyes, something that is almost impossible to bounce back from in just one game. Compromising Stafford’s eyes doesn’t seem as too much of a challenge considering that he will be riding an all-time wave of confidence and facing extremely high expectations, not to mention that this game would be his first-ever real game since last year.
Compromising Stafford’s eyes could come from showing Stafford zero blitz looks, something that can be one of the easiest coverages to break if you can recognize it pre-snap and make the necessary adjustments; but if not recognized and figured out, zero blitz coverages can become a QBs worst nightmare.
By showing a numerical disadvantage in the box, and no safeties in coverage, there is a certain pressure that comes onto the quarterback, especially when you switch it up by dropping pass rushers into coverage and furthering the complexity of the post-snap read.
If the Bears were to not adopt some zero blitz looks, then they should at the very least make sure to differentiate the pre and post-snap reads to bring frustration upon Stafford who will most likely be trusting his eyes too much, as his self-confidence is likely at an all-time high after his short but sweet campaign in 2019.
Photo Credit: Paul Sancya / Associated Press