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Analysis Bears Opinion

Bears Defense Should Have Big Day vs. Cardinals

The Chicago Bears defense should take it to the Cardinals offense on Sunday afternoon.

The Chicago Bears will head to Arizona this Sunday to take on the Cardinals who have started the season 0-2. It’s early, but the Cardinals look like one of the worst teams in the NFC.

In two games, the Cardinals have scored six total points. No, that is not a misprint. They were beaten by the Washington Redskins 24-6 in week one and lost last week to the Los Angeles Rams 34-0.

All signs point to it being a tough year in the desert for the Cardinals, who just three years ago were in the NFC title game. It’s a completely new look offense now that head coach Bruce Arians is gone. Still, the Bears defense should have a big day against the Cardinals offense on Sunday.

Personnel

As I mentioned above, Arians is no longer the head coach of the Cardinals. Steve Wilks is now the man in charge and he has a background in defense. Mike McCoy is the new offensive coordinator. This is big for two reasons.

1. McCoy is overrated 

McCoy gets a ton of credit for being the mind behind the Denver Broncos offense that set records with Peyton Manning. Hell, McCoy even got a head coaching job out of it with the then San Diego Chargers.

We all know that Manning had a huge influence on what was going on in Denver. That was obvious after McCoy was fired by the Chargers after four seasons. He then rejoined the Broncos in Denver.

He was eventually fired after a six-game losing streak in 2017. Now, he resides in Arizona, who lacks weapons on offense.

2. David Johnson is not being utilized correctly 

For whatever reason, McCoy does not know how to use his best player on offense in RB David Johnson. Johnson missed the majority of last season with a wrist injury. This year he is fully healthy and being underutilized.

Johnson had just nine rushing attempts against the Redskins and 13 against the Rams. Game flow did contribute to both of those numbers. Common sense would tell us that Johnson would then have been used more in the passing game.

In 2016, Johnson was targeted a whopping 120 times in the passing game. He also caught 80 balls for 879 yards and four touchdowns. That’s the Bruce Arians effect. So far in 2018, Johnson has been targeted 11 times in the passing game. He has just six receptions for 33 yards.

To put that in better perspective, Jordan Howard has eight receptions for 58 yards. Keep in mind Howard has always struggled catching passes out of the backfield. Johnson, on the other hand, has not.

Larry Fitzgerald is up there in age, so he’s not the same player he once was. Rookie tight end Ricky Seals-Jones has some upside, but not when QB Sam Bradford is throwing him the football. Bradford will be under center, at least to start Sunday’s contest.

Listen to “Ep. 3 – Week 2, a Bears Victory” on Spreaker.

Scheme

On film, the Cardinals offense is laughable. Their offensive line is one of the worst overall units in the league, along with their pass catchers outside of Fitzgerald and Seals-Jones. Obviously, Johnson is their best player on this unit.

McCoy’s offense is simple. It’s very easy to tell when they are going to hand the ball off. They did it out of the “I” formation often against the Rams. They also ran a ton on first down, which the numbers will tell you is football suicide more times than not.

Again, McCoy’s offense is predictable. They often spread everyone out and go empty in the backfield when they are going to throw. Play action is hardly used in this new version of the Cardinals offense.

Bradford also lacks mobility, though the Rams didn’t generate much pressure on him in week two. That’s most likely because they are weaker at the defensive end position. All of their talent is in the middle of the D-line.

Matchup the Cardinals can exploit: Using DJ correctly 

When David Johnson is used correctly, he’s almost impossible to stop. You have to believe McCoy and the rest of his staff on offense have realized this by now. If they haven’t, then Sunday’s game will be that much easier for the Bears.

If I’m the Cardinals, I’m letting DJ run routes out of the backfield and getting him a high amount of touches and targets. The offensive line isn’t doing DJ any favors though. He is going to have to make a lot out of nothing on Sunday for the Cardinals to have a chance.

Matchup the Bears can exploit: Forcing the Cardinals to throw 

The Bears defense has done this to both of the teams they have faced this season, so they should probably continue to make teams throw the football. Taking away the run game against a team with a mediocre quarterback is bigger than some people may think.

Because of the awful offensive line, the Cardinals WRs usually have to run short, intermediate routes. That isn’t going to match up well with the speed of the Bears linebackers and seconday. And again, their QB is Sam Bradford.

 Follow Nick on Twitter–Featured Photo Credit: AP Photo 

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Nick is a recent graduate of Northern Illinois University and passionate about everything Chicago sports (except the Cubs). He has run his own website, been featured on Bleacher Report, and tried to sell his soul on eBay (which he hasn’t gotten back). He hopes to one day see his beloved Bears win the Super Bowl and is still trying to figure out why Jay Cutler gets so much hate.

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