Haugh: Bears-Broncos Preview

The chess match between Matt Nagy and Vic Fangio looms large.

David Haugh
September 12, 2019 - 1:03 pm
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(670 The Score) The Bears (0-1) are on the road to face the Broncos (0-1) Sunday afternoon at Mile High Stadium. Kickoff comes at 3:25 p.m., and the game can be heard on WBBM Newsradio 780.

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Here's a breakdown.

Bears 100:

Forget Denver’s atmospheric conditions. This game will come down to attitude, not altitude. The Bears need to approach Sunday as if they must win or risk letting the season slip away. Since 1990, only 12.6 percent of teams that started 0-2 made the playoffs. The average record of those teams is 6-10. Hope comes in the form of a banged-up Broncos offensive line, an immobile quarterback in Joe Flacco and a Broncos defense that couldn’t stop the Raiders' running game. Take the hint, Matt Nagy. Run the ball until Mitchell Trubisky rediscovers his comfort zone.

Related: Bears' respect for Vic Fangio runs deep

Most intriguing matchup: Broncos head coach Vic Fangio vs. Bears offense

No NFL coach or coordinator knows the Bears better than Fangio, who was around for Trubisky’s first 26 NFL starts. Fangio also saw what worked for Nagy last season and – more importantly – what didn’t. Fangio’s schematic impact likely will challenge Trubisky more, but the Broncos lack the personnel and talent to take advantage. In other words, Khalil Mack is more likely to wreck this game than pass-rushing counterpart Von Miller. More than anything, good players make smart coaches. Perhaps the most interesting element is that Fangio’s approach figures to be copied by future Bears opponents likely to benefit from his blueprint.

Quoting:

"With him in Oakland and me in the NFC, I really didn’t see him play a lot and then when we got him, it was just after a few days, it was like, holy (crap)." -- Fangio on Khalil Mack

"I was told not to talk about the last game ... All the mistakes we made, they’re fixable."  -- Trubisky to Chicago media, citing advice from Bears PR staff

Stat of the week:

The Broncos had zero sacks or pressures against Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, who dropped back 27 times. An effective ground game slowed down the Broncos pass rush.

Stat of the week II:

On Dec. 13, 2015, on the same field he will play on Sunday in Denver for the Bears, Khalil Mack had five sacks in one game for the Raiders.

Stat of the week III:

Tarik Cohen had zero carries against the Packers. That needs to change if the Bears want to get serious about running the football.

The difference:

The Broncos are in rebuilding mode. The Bears are still thinking Super Bowl. That will become more apparent after this matchup that should quell some of the concerns around Chicago. As sophisticated as Fangio’s defensive schemes will be, the Bears still likely will show better balance and mix in the run to set up an effective play-action passing game. Defensively, expect the Bears to dominate with at least five sacks of Flacco and force the takeaways that eluded them against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.

Prediction: Bears 24, Broncos 13

David Haugh is the co-host of the Mully & Haugh Show on 670 The Score weekdays from 5-9 a.m. Listen to the show here. You can follow him on Twitter @DavidHaugh and email him at david.haugh@entercom.com.