MONSTER’S MASH: Dreams of a Bears’ defensive repeat against the Rams
CHICAGO – Of all of the 12 victories that took place in 2018 season, one could argue the one they got in Week 14 was their finest.
That’s when they hosted the eventual NFC Champion Los Angeles Rams on a cold Sunday night in at Soldier Field with a national audience checking in. It came after a loss to the Giants had slowed some of the momentum they got in the month of November, but in front of a raucous crowd, they were about to get it back.
A furious defensive attack completely shutdown a stout Rams’ offense in the defense’s best performance of the season, sending a message that the group was arguably the best in the league in a 16-6 victory over Los Angeles. There were turnovers, big plays, the loudest crowd of the season at Soldier Field celebrating a team that fans had waited for since 2010.
“The pressure was huge, just making the pocket very uncomfortable for him, and we had great coverage in the back end. We were very sticky to their receivers” said Amukamara of the 2018 game. “So it’s said in the NFL, rush and coverage go together and that’s what happened that game.”
The Bears held the Rams to 214 total yards, and Todd Gurley rushed for just 28 yards. Jared Goff was picked off four times and was sacked on three occasions, and defensive unit’s efforts were certainly needed on a poor night for Mitchell Trubisky and the offense.
“We were put in some cool positions, understanding what they were going to do,” said outside linebacker Khalil Mack when asked about the scheme that was designed by then defensive coordinator Vic Fangio for a strong Los Angeles offense. “The defensive mind he is, he made it hard for them.”
That game has come up a lot since the teams meet again on Sunday night, doing so this time in the warmth of the Los Angeles Coliseum. This year presents a completely different scenario for the teams since each has failed to live up to their performances of a year ago. That’s especially true for Goff, who has thrown for just 11 touchdowns while being intercepted nine times as the offense has averaged 25.1 points per game, which is down from 32.9 from last season.
While the circumstances are different, and the Bears defense now being led by Chuck Pagano instead of Fangio, Amukamara believes the Rams can still be explosive as before.
“Their offense is made to take shots down the field and (Rams head coach Sean) McVay is a mastermind coordinator and coach so he always has some great stuff,” said Amukamara. “So we just have to do a great job in the back end and try to minimize that.”
This Time, It’s More Permanent for Nick
Just a look at the replay of the injury told the likely story of Danny Trevathan’s final seven games of the 2019 season.
The inside linebacker’s elbow injury, in all likelihood, will sideline him for at least the rest of the regular season and most likely any run the Bears would make the NFL Playoffs should they qualify. That’s a major blow to the defense, which loses its leading tackler (70) and a very reliable part of the middle of the unit.
That means that Nick Kwaitkoski is going to see quite a bit more playing time than he’s seen during the 2019 season. He’s only taken snaps in three regular season games on defense – the blowout against the Redskins, filling in for Roquan Smith against the Vikings, then last Sunday against the Lions for Trevathan.
Expect Kwiatkoski to be the starter next to Smith from here on out, and that’s not a terrible option for Pagano to have. During his two games filling in for injuries, the fourth-year linebacker has 20 tackles with two sacks, a forced fumble, and an interception. Filling in and being productive is one thing, but replacing the leadership role that Trevathan had in his fourth year with the Bears is something quite different.
“He kinda brings something on the field, off the field, leadership wise that; it’s hard to match,” said Kwiatkoski of Trevathan. “He’s a ‘lead by example’ guy, vocal; we’re different. For me, just go in and I’ll try to lead by example type guy as well. So it’s hard to match what him and also Akiem Hicks brings, but just, you know, going in there, doing the right things on and off the field.”
Trey’s Out, But What About David?
Since the seven-carry game against the Saints, Matt Nagy has followed through with his promise to run the ball more against the Chargers, Eagles, and Lions. A big part of that ability was having David Montgomery in the backfield as he carried the ball 58 times in those three contests, picking up 235 yards and scoring three touchdowns.
But an ankle injury during practice this week has made the rookie running back a game-time decision for Sunday evening against the Rams. Should he not be able to go, Tarik Cohen and Ryan Nall, who is now the back up running back after Mike Davis was released, would likely pick up the rushing load with Cordarrelle Patterson taking carries at times.
Trey Burton and Adam Shaheen are out, meaning more time for Ben Braunecker and JP Holtz will take the snaps at the position. Burton was later placed on Injured Reserve by the team, ending his season.
STAT OF THE WEEK: 3.5
The amount Mitchell Trubisky is better than Goff in Quarterback Rating in 2019.
Trubisky is at 85.2 while Goff is at 82.7.