The season opener was rough for the Chicago Bears, and things don’t figure to get much easier in Week 2 versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I feel good [about the matchup],” Bears left tackle Braxton Jones said after practice on Thursday. “It’s in my preparation: make sure I’m watching film. Seeing some tells, seeing if I can get some keys on certain pressures. See if I can see certain guys dropping or not.”
Bears’ Braxton Jones Looking for ‘Tells’ in Bucs’ Defense for Week 2
Braxton Jones, Bears Ready to Bounce Back
Despite a rough go in the opener in which he was tagged with two false starts and two holding calls, Jones is unphased going into the next game.
“I feel super confident going into this next week. Obviously, fix the penalties and stuff from last week,” Jones said. “I just was trying to get a jump on the ball [on the false starts]. Not necessarily trying to jump offsides, obviously. But I was just trying to get a good play, trying to get a good jump. That’s all that was.”
Jones has always been honest, including about his own performance.
A former fifth-round pick out of Southern Utah, Jones started every game as a rookie and was very open about working to deal with the bull rush better to using his hands more in pass protection.
Amid a sea of injuries around him, has remained a stalwart throughout the summer and preseason into the regular season, and will look to continue that in Week 2.
“Go out there and play hard, show my identity, do everything I can to get a win,” he said.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) September 10, 2023
Chicago struggled with Green Bay’s zone blitzes, leaving quarterback Justin Fields under pressure on more than 53% of his dropbacks in the season opener. They will see a similar approach from the Bucs. Tampa recorded the second-highest blitz rate in Week 1 versus the Minnesota Vikings, per Pro Football Reference.
And their cornerbacks were primarily in zone coverage in the 20-17 victory, per Pro Football Focus.
Bears’ D’Onta Foreman Cites Bucs’ Chemistry, Tackling
“They play hard,” Bears running back D’Onta Foreman said. “They really got a lot of good tacklers on they defense, a lot of guys that’s been playing together for a while. So their chemistry on the field, and then the way they fly around to the ball is definitely what makes them tough.”
Foreman faced Tampa Bay twice last year as a member of the Carolina Panthers.
He found success to the tune of 118 yards on 15 carries and also caught two passes for 27 yards, showcasing his seldom-utilized ability as a threat out of the backfield. But the Bucs bottled him up in the second meeting, holding Foreman to 35 yards on the 13 carries.
Still, he believes you have to take the fight to that defense to be successful.
“Just wearing them down,” he said about being physical against Tampa. “Attack them and run at them. Make them have to tackle you. I feel like that’ll be really beneficial.”
Foreman carried the ball just five times in Week 1, gaining 16 yards as the Bears’ offense struggled to sustain drives for much of the afternoon. He finished third in snaps behind Roschon Johnson and Khalil Herbert. But the blowout nature of this game in the second half may have contributed to that.
He could still be a bit of a closer for games in which the Bears have a lead and need to churn out some tough first downs to keep the clock moving. Or at least when they get down to the opposing goal line and need some power.
Whatever his role ultimately becomes, Foreman says they are looking forward to next week.
“[We’re] very excited,” Foreman said. “Just want to put last week behind us, and go out there and put our best foot forward this week. Show everybody that we’re a better football team than that. That we can go out there and win some games, and this not the Bears team that you’re used to seeing.”
Bears Face Tough Road Trip
Sunday at Raymond James Stadium, Foreman, Jones, and the rest of the Bears will get their next chance to do just that.
With a matchup against the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs looming in Week 3, Sunday won’t be a must-win contest for the Bears. It may feel like one, though, if it unfolds as the season opener did.