Tale Of The Tape: Tampa Bay Buccaneers At Chicago Bears
- QuarterbackJosh McCown gets an opportunity to compete against the team he excelled for last year and helped him get a huge contract. McCown filled in for Jay Cutler last season and kept the Bears on track during his absence. McCown has fine mobility and is an accurate passer, but injuries, a poor supporting cast and overall ineffective play has slowed him down.Jay Cutler has been unable to play with any kind of consistency, and Bears fans have grown tired of his seeming lack of urgency. Cutler has a magnificent arm and fine athletic ability, but he has been unable to pick up big chunks of yardage for what should be a formidable offensive team. Cutler makes too many mistakes and his propensity for turnovers has hurt the Bears badly.
- OffenseThe Bucs will try to run the ball in this game, and they know that backup running back Bobby Rainey will give them everything he has. If Doug Martin (ankle) is able to get on the field, he has a chance to hurt the Bears between the tackles. While Vincent Jackson has not had a big season, he has the ability to make plays against Chicago’s vulnerable secondary. Mike Evans is a fine playmaker.The biggest problem for the Bears has been their inability to make big plays this season. Despite the presence of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery at the wide receiver spot and Martellus Bennett at tight end, the Bears are rarely able to make plays of 20 yards or more. Matt Forte is a superb running back, but the Bears’ gameplans rarely take full advantage of his ability.
- DefenseThe Bucs inability to play well on defense has been perhaps the most disappointing part of their season. Head coach Lovie Smith has been able to build strong defensive teams at all of his previous jobs, but the Bucs struggle overall (29th) and are 30th against the pass. Lavonte David is a very strong linebacker, but the secondary is vulnerable.The Bears don’t have the athleticism on defense to stop most opponents. There have been several examples – most notably in the Green Bay game in Week 10 – where they did not hustle on all plays. Veteran Lance Briggs appears to have conceded the season, while former Viking Jared Allen has given them nothing in the pass rush.
- Special TeamsThe Bucs have been poor on their coverage team since the start of the season, and there has been very little improvement. Solomon Patton gives them very little in the return game. Placekicker Patrick Murray is very ordinary and punter Michel Koenen does not have a strong enough leg.The Bears have to play harder on special teams because they have been vulnerable on punt returns this season. Chris Williams has some speed and returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the blowout loss to Green Bay. Robbie Gould rarely misses and is one of the best placekickers in the game.
The Bears have had numerous problems this year and may be the most disappointing team in the league, but they should be able to handle Smith and the Bucs in this assignment. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports