The Chicago Bears and the Denver Broncos will both enter their matchup Sunday 0-1, with each team needing a victory after slow and disappointing starts.
The game will feature Bears former defensive coordinator and new Denver head coach Vic Fangio going up against the defense he helped shape, while Bears coach Matt Nagy will attempt to rebound after an abysmal play calling performance week one.
The game has all the makings to be a defensive struggle, and the history between these two coaches promises to highlight a game that should, at the very least, feature some drama. Here are the five biggest storylines heading into the game:
Vic Fangio and Matt Nagy’s Chess Match
Nagy was widely criticized for his play-calling week one, and he owned his bad decisions afterward, the primary one being the imbalance of the running and passing games. The Bears rushed the ball 12 times and dropped back to pass 53 times against Green Bay. While Nagy noted that some of the passes may have been the result of RPOs and not play calls, that balance has to change. Nagy says it will.
The Broncos coaches may have the advantage here because they know the Bears personnel much better than Chicago knows theirs. Denver’s defensive backs coach Ed Donatell followed Fangio to Denver, so expect Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco to test the Bears secondary. Fangio is also likely to try to make Trubisky stay in the pocket, where he has struggled.
The Raiders were effective against the Broncos defense in week one because Derek Carr got rid of the ball in an extremely quick fashion. If Nagy can dial up some plays Fangio may not be as familiar with, while also calling a game that allows Mitchell Trubisky to get rid of the ball fast, the Bears will have a chance to bounce back.
Will David Montgomery and the Running Game Be Used More Effectively?
Montgomery has been predicted by many to be a breakout rookie this season, but that didn’t happen week one. His touches were surprisingly low. In the first game against Green Bay, Montgomery carried the ball six times for 18 yards and caught a pass for 27 yards.
Montgomery is one of the few offensive players Vic Fangio doesn’t know well, so Nagy may (and likely should) use him more. He could be one of the game’s trump cards. Nagy will undoubtedly be looking to run the ball more week two, so look for Montgomery to be a bigger part of the offense this week. He may just be the difference-maker in this game.
Will Trubisky Bounce Back?
Trubisky had a shaky debut against the Packers, but he was hardly to blame for the sluggish and lackluster effort by the Bears offensive line. Nor was he to blame for Nagy’s play calls, which the coach admitted after the game did nothing to help his young quarterback.
Trubisky went 26-45 for 228 yards, 0 touchdowns, and an interception, and he will be going against an arguably better defense than he did week one. That said, the Broncos defense didn’t live up to expectations, falling to the Raiders in a disappointing performance.
All eyes will be on Trubisky Sunday–and they’ll be critical eyes. If he turns in a solid performance–if he takes care of the ball and does a better job reading the defense, he has a shot at bouncing back against a tough Denver D. If not, his list of critics and doubters will continue to grow.
Anthony Miller’s Low Snap Count
Miller, who has been listed as the Bears’ WR2 on every team depth chart, was strangely absent for much of the Bears matchup against the Packers. He led the team in touchdowns last season, and many Bears fans were wondering why Miller missed so many snaps week one.
Wide receivers coach Mike Furrey said this week that he didn’t think Miller had enough reps in the preseason and OTAs and that he was working the second-year wide receiver into the game plan slowly:
Miller had offseason surgery to repair a shoulder injury that affected him all of last season, so expect Miller to take full advantage of whatever targets he gets–and if his targets are similarly limited to what they were in week one, something else could be going on with the Bears young wide receiver. It certainly bears watching, pun intended.
Will Trey Burton Play?
Burton had offseason surgery to repair the groin issue that kept him out of the Bears playoff game against Philadelphia last year, and he’s still trying to get back to 100 percent.
Burton likely would have helped the Bears in week one–he was one of Trubisky’s favorite targets last year, and he has good hands. He didn’t play, however, so it’s hard to determine how much he may have helped his young quarterback. If Burton is a go Sunday against Denver, expect him to be a factor in a potentially-limited role.
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