“You can’t be shocked by what happened,” said linebacker Roquan Smith. “That’s what it is. We went over there and put on these performances, so [we] cannot blame anyone other than ourselves. We just have to look at it as a reality check. You just have to go to the lab, keep improving. You can’t dwell on the past because these two games have happened and there is nothing that nobody can do to change that. So it’s just a matter of improving and growing more from that. “
After allowing an average of 20.9 points in their first 10 games, the Bears have allowed 41 and 34 points in the past two weeks. They ranked first in the NFL in third down efficiency and red zone touchdown percentage after 10 games, but have since slipped to fifth in both categories after allowing the Packers and Lions convert a combined total of 12 of the first 22 tries (54.5%) and scores touchdowns on 7 of 8 red zone possessions (87.5%).
(2) Will the Bears offense build on the improvements made in recent weeks, especially last week against the Lions?
After struggling most of the year, the offense is finally showing some signs of life. Against the Lions, the Bears tied the season high with 30 points and 26 first downs and recorded their second-highest total yards (389) and rushing yards (140).
The improvement has come since the week off when Mitchell Trubisky was reinstated as starting quarterback, running back David Montgomery returned after missing a game with a concussion and the offensive line was overhauled. Montgomery rushed for a peak of 103 yards against the Lions and Trubisky posted a 108.3 passer rating which was the highest by a Bears quarterback this year.
“I feel like we are making progress on offense,” Trubisky said earlier this week. “I feel like it’s just a little reassured that we’re getting better in training, we’re doing our job and you see the hard work in training translating into the game a little bit more. We have to keep going. to do it. And we have to continue to be hungry because we are not getting the results we want. “
The Bears will be looking to take another step against a Texans defense that ranks 24th in the NFL in points and 30th in yards (31st against the run and 21st against the pass). In their last three games, the Texans have allowed 20, 25 and 26 points and 399, 384 and 398 yards.
(3) Will the Bears’ defense be able to contain Texans star quarterback Deshaun Watson?
Houston has struggled to move the ball to the ground this season, ranking last in the NFL for rushing yards. But Watson continued to shine. The fourth-year quarterback leads the NFL in average yards per passing (8.83), second in passing yards (3,542) and fourth in passer rating (110.0).
“He’s a great player,” said defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. “What a talent. The top two or three players in this league as far as I’m concerned; I could probably say he’s the best player. He’s tall, he’s strong, he’s athletic. He’s very, very dangerous. . He’s a great, great talent, He’s a great player. Unfortunately, we can’t play with 13 players. We would love this week. “
Pagano told reporters that the program the Texans put together has more run / pass options than anyone in the NFL and is perfect for the multidimensional Watson. The Houston quarterback has collected 344, 318 and 341 yards in his last three games and has run for at least 36 yards in five of his last six.
“You’ve seen him come out of danger a few times,” said Pagano, “then run for the first downs or throw the ball out onto the pitch and get a big chunk of the game.”
Having recorded just eight sacks in their six-game losing streak, the Bears must rediscover their pass rush Sunday against Watson and the Texans.
(4) Will the Bears offense be able to slow down Texans All-Pro defensive end JJ Watt?
Watt established himself as one of the best defensive players in the NFL in a ridiculous four-year span from 2012 to 2015 when he recorded 20.5, 10.5, 20.5 and 17.5 bags. His production is down – he’s got 5.0 sacks in 12 games this year – but he’s still capable of producing impact plays – like Matthew Stafford’s pass he intercepted and sent back 19 yards for a touchdown in a Thanksgiving victory over the Lions.
“Obviously he’s a dominant player,” said offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. “It’s hard to block him one-on-one. Both running and passing he’ll be making plays. One of the things that’s different now than I used to when I trained against him is that it will move to a lot of different places now, whereas you had a few times earlier where you had a bit of an easier time predicting where it would be, so that’s also a challenge.
“The players are just going to have to be pros about it. They are going to have to be smart, they are going to have to see where he is. If he lines up somewhere they weren’t really expecting him, then they are going. have to find ways to help him. That’s kind of how you treat those kind of players. He can destroy a running game or a passing game. It’s just a fact. And he has been a long time ago. “