2016 Buccaneers’ Season Preview: Week 10 vs. Chicago

Jul 28, 2016; Bourbonnais, IL, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) during training camp at Olivet Nazarene University. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 28, 2016; Bourbonnais, IL, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) during training camp at Olivet Nazarene University. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports /

Continuing our season preview, the Buccaneers play host to the Chicago Bears week ten, completing a three game homestand.

Training camp is in full swing.  Can you believe it?  We may be in the dog days of summer, but Buccaneers’ football is rapidly approaching.  Workouts are going on as you read, and the first preseason game is set for August 11th.  Before you know it, week one will be here and it will be on.

With that, it is time to continue our previews.  Over the last several weeks, we have been previewing each game of the season, taking a look at some early keys to winning those matchup.  Just a few days ago, we began the second half of the season looking at the week nine matchup against the Falcons, closing out the season series.  Today, we move ahead to week ten, where the Bucs finish a three game homestand with a game against Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears.

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The Bucs have faced the Bears 56 previous times, with the Bears winning 38 of them.  The last time the Bucs beat the Bears was in September of 2008, when a Matt Bryant field goal gave them a 27-24 overtime victory at Soldier Field.

Jameis Winston and company will have some opportunities to move the football.  Last year the Bears were ranked 14th overall on defense.

Doug Martin hasn’t been great against them, only averaging 38 yards per game in two previous meetings.  He was also held to one of his worst performances of 2015, rushing for 49 yards on 17 carries in a game last season.  Last year, however, Jameis posted a 96.2 passer rating against them, racking up 295 yards and two touchdowns versus just one interception.  Don’t be surprised if you see Charles Sims a bit in this one.  He has averaged 6.7 yards per carry against the Bears in a limited role in his career, and posted a receiving touchdown.

He might just play a role in opening up the defense for Martin, Mike Evans, and everyone else.

The test for the revamped secondary will come against none other than Alshon Jeffery.  After two 1,000 yard seasons as Brandon Marshall‘s number two, he was on his way to a dominant first year as the number one receiver.  Unfortunately an injury limited him to eight games, but he still posted 807 yards and four TD’s.  Spread out over a full season would project Jeffery over 1,600 yards, quite the huge number, and well deserving of the franchise tag he was given.

He only posted 22 yards against the Bucs in their one meeting, but he did score on one of the three receptions he made.  At 6’4″ tall, Jeffery is another on a list of receivers that will pose a test for the Bucs’ shorter cornerbacks.  Stopping him will be a key to short-circuiting the Bears’ offense.

Moving to the leader of the offense, Jay Cutler is a “gun-slinger”.  He’s an efficient one, with a career completion percentage of 62%, but he also gets hit a lot.  Through his career, he has been sacked an average of 28.5 times per season.  What does that tell us?  Cutler hangs onto the football, and that means that Robert Ayers and company will get their chances to put him on the ground.  The Bears offensive line was 12th best in pass protection according to NFL Outsiders, but if the guys up front can get to the backfield, they can get to Cutler.

No quarterback likes being pressured.

Next: News and Notes from Camp Day Two

The Bucs are in a very winnable part of the schedule, and the game against the Bears is no different.  If they play well, they have an excellent shot of ending their homestand on a high note.