We’re back again with the next segment in the Interview with the Enemy series. This week, Jeff Berckes of Windy City Gridiron answers 5 quick questions before the Week 7 matchup on Sunday: an NFC defensive showdown in the Windy City against the Chicago Bears.
Do we expect Mitchell Trubisky to play this week? If so, what can we expect at quarterback?
Yeah, I think we can expect to see Mitchell Trubisky back under center this weekend. I have no doubt it will be painful for him to play through this injury, but all signs point to his return.
As to what we can expect, your guess is as good as mine, Chris. He looked like a scared rookie in his first three starts and quite frankly, I’m not sure exactly what will happen now that he’s playing with an injury. Last year, Head Coach Matt Nagy took the opportunity of the bye week to strip down the offense and install a modified version that he felt Trubisky could handle. Trubisky responded well and had a number of quality starts until he suffered an injury against the Vikings that seemed to slow him down. Bears fans have to hope that something similar is going to happen because if Trubisky comes back out as the same guy he was in September, this Bears season is effectively over.
I’d like to see Nagy call plays to get Trubisky on the move and attack the line of scrimmage more as he’s an effective ball carrier and throws well on the move. Unfortunately, I think that Nagy is going to go the opposite way due to the injury and try to keep him in the pocket. He just hasn’t shown enough consistency in his career for me to believe that the Bears offense can operate well relying on just his pocket passing ability
Sean Payton has game planned perfectly for each opponent while Teddy Bridgewater has been the starter. If you were Payton, how would you game plan to beat the Chicago Bears?
Well, so far it seems as though the way to beat the Bears defense is to wear them out in altitude or catch them with jetlag. Seeing as neither of those will happen this week, Teddy Two Gloves is simply going to have to earn it. The Raiders were able to run the ball right at the Bears, aided by a few unpenalized chop blocks and lots of cutting. I hope the Saints linemen have more pride than the Raiders and won’t go that direction - I’d like to see our front 7 stay healthy. Quick passes and play-action have had some success at times this year but overall the Bears defense has been extremely good at limiting explosive plays.
As a Bears fan, I’m most worried about Alvin Kamara’s ability out of the backfield as a receiver. The Bears presumably have a player that matches up well on Kamara in Roquan Smith, but he seems to be going through something that is preventing him from performing at his peak. I wonder if Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano will try to match Safety Eddie Jackson up with Kamara to limit the dangerous back.
Finish this sentence: The Bears will win this game if _______.
...Matt Nagy has figured out what this offense can do well. I’m simply not that worried about the Bears defense. The early points against the Raiders in their last game seem much more like an anomaly due to travel schedule than a weakness in their defense. I would expect them to keep the Saints offense in check. What I don’t know is what happened during this bye week to the offense and if Nagy is willing to call a game to his team’s strengths and attack what he perceives as the Saints’ weakness.
What’s the one statistic (and don’t say points!) that you think determines the outcome of this game ? i.e. Kamara’s rushing yards, Trubisky’s completion %, 3rd down efficiency, etc.
The easy answer is turnovers. With this defense playing as well as it is, they have a good chance of winning the turnover battle every week. The problem is that they need to win the turnover battle every week with how the offense has been playing. I’ll go a step further and say that they need to score in some way - either turn the ball over in FG range or put it in the endzone. This defense is going to have to put this team on its back a few times this year if they want to make it back to the playoffs and I fear that out of the bye week the offense is not going to be ready.
I’d also like to see Alvin Kamara’s yards from scrimmage finish at under 100 but he’s also on two of my fantasy squads so... yep, I’m willing to make that sacrifice. Seriously though, I think as good as Michael Thomas is, I’d most like to see Kamara taken away or at least limited in this one.
What is your prediction for the game? Who wins? Final score?
I don’t know. I’m terrible at pick ‘em and I’m sure all of the opposing sites always pick their own team to win. I like the Saints - I went to the Superdome last year for the game against the Rams and had a great time. Saints fans were gracious and I had a great time. I’m just having a hard time seeing how Bridgewater can be successful against a rested Bears defense. I’d be willing to put a small bet on the under as the Bears defense has been an overall stellar unit. It would not surprise me to see the Bears grind out an ugly game and it would not surprise me to see the Saints sit on an early lead and shut down the Bears offense. Ideally, you guys lose focus on your second straight road game and aren’t as hungry sitting there at 5-1. The Bears really need this one to keep pace in a tough division so what do you say, be a nice guy and let us have this one? We’ll promise to beat the Rams for you later this year!
Thank-you, Jeff, for taking the time to answer our questions. Saints fans, make sure you check out Jeff and the work his guys are doing over at Windy City Gridiron. You can follow Windy City Gridiron on Twitter @WCGridiron, Jeff @gridironborn, and of course you can follow me @dunnellz.