Not going to lie, I’ve had nightmares about last week’s loss. What if the Bears found a way to win that game? What if Jordan Howard didn’t drop that ball? What if Mike Glennon could scramble? The amount of “what ifs” could go on forever. At the end of the day, it was an entire team loss and it’s time to move on.
This week, the Bears will travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers. It will be an emotional game for the Bucs, who are lucky to even be playing at home after Hurricane Irma. It will also be their first game of the season, which could be an advantage for the Bears.
Here are five things to watch on Sunday afternoon.
In case you missed it, the Bears put Jerrell Freeman on IR this week, meaning he will most likely be out the entire regular season. This means backup linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski will get 15 games to prove he can be a starter in the NFL.
He started six games at the end of last season after Freeman was suspended and Danny Trevathan went down with an injury. Kwiatkoski was impressive at times, but still had some work to do. The kid is a strong tackler and has solid instincts. Those two aspects of his game stick out when watching his film.
He may be asked to cover tight ends OJ Howard and Cameron Brate on Sunday. Both are big, strong and physical. If Kwiatkoski can’t hold his own, it may be a long, long game.
Side Note: Freeman actually tore his pec on the first play of the game Sunday. He finished the game and played well. Say what you want, but the guy is a warrior.
A big THANK YOU for all the love and well wishes from my loved ones, friends, and fans from everywhere. Though i didn't know tearing my pec the first play of the game or getting a concussion was part of it haha I do know that God always has a plan! He's brought me a mighty long way! #trustandbelieve
After the Kevin White injury, the Bears needed to add some wide receivers to the active roster. One of those players was a familiar face in Tanner Gentry.
Gentry was a star in training camp but had a fairly quiet preseason, which resulted in him landing on the Bears practice squad. He and rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky developed a strong relationship on the field. That was one of the reasons the Bears decided to keep him around.
Tanner Gentry can be the downfield threat that this unit needs. It will be dependent on Glennons deep ball, though. pic.twitter.com/pEna2QKB6j
— Jay (@BuffLlama) September 12, 2017
It will be interesting to see how the Bears use Gentry on Sunday. He has the ability to stretch the field, but don’t expect Mike Glennon to throw downfield often. This offense will need to run the ball effectively and dink and dunk in the passing game in order to get wins with Glennon at quarterback.
Will Markus Wheaton Play?
Would you believe me if I told you that the Bears most important player on offense could be wide receiver, Markus Wheaton? Well, that is exactly the current situation given the Bears personnel at the position.
Wheaton was brought in to do one thing and one thing only: go deep. In 2015, Wheaton ranked in the top 25 for wall wide receivers with 17 yards per catch. He also had an act for getting into the end zone. He scored five touchdowns that season on a team that had Antonio Brown and Martvais Bryant.
Wheaton will be a game-time decision Sunday. If he plays, the Bears will finally have a deep ball threat for the first time since losing Alshon Jeffery (free agent) and Cam Meredith (injury).
Kyle Long Return
According to multiple reports, offensive linemen Kyle Long was back at practice this week. All signs point to him making his 2017 regular season debut against the Bucs Sunday.
Last year, Long suffered a gruesome ankle injury against the Bucs.
Last week, Tom Compton did a nice job of filling in for Long. Still, it will be nice to have the Pro Bowler back on the field given the injuries he suffered last season.
Center Cody Whitehair had a rough game last week. Hopefully, the addition of Long will take some pressure off him this week.
Besides a couple blown coverages last week, the Bears secondary played well against the defending NFC champions. This week, they will have their hands full with Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, and Cameron Brate.
As of now, it’s uncertain if Prince Amukamara will play. Like Wheaton, he will most likely be a game-time decision. Marcus Cooper and Kyle Fuller would start if Amukamara was sidelined once again. Again, they did a nice job on Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu last week.
More than anything, the Bears secondary needs to get some turnovers. That is something defensive guru Vic Fangio has failed to do during his time in Chicago.
Call me crazy, but I like the Bears again this week. This will be the Bucs first game of the season and they will have some issues to workout early. It’s important that the Bears get off to a good start.
Bears 24 Bucs 23