After a tough stretch of road games, the Chicago Bears (3-5) return to Soldier Field to face the Miami Dolphins (5-3) on Sunday. Chicago continues to rebuild under new general manager Ryan Poles and will take the field for the first time without Roquan Smith (traded to Baltimore) on the roster since 2018.
However, following the offseason loss of Allen Robinson, the Bears have found a replacement in rising star Chase Claypool, a high-potential big-bodied wide receiver.
The Dolphins have also changed their roster, trading for star pass rusher Bradley Chubb to their defense.
As the Bears take the field on Sunday looking to find win number four, the team has to be concerned about what Chubb adds to Miami’s pass rush, given their injuries on the offensive line. In addition to Bradley Chubb, here are the other concerns Chicago needs to address to beat the Dolphins on Sunday.
The Dolphins' pass rush just got better with Bradley Chubb
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Before trading for Bradley Chubb, the Dolphins’ defensive line was known more for its run-stopping ability than pass rush. This acquisition adds more balance to the defense.
Miami was one of the worst pass rush units in the NFL before the Chubb trade. Adding the former Broncos pass rusher improves the Dolphins from the 28th best at pressuring the quarterback to the 15th. Chubb has the third-best pass rush win rate this season and is on pace for a double-digit sack season.
The Bears have injury concerns on the offensive line. Larry Borom remains sidelined with a concussion and Cody Whitehair (knee) and Lucas Patrick (toe) remain on injured reserve. Chicago being without three starting offensive linemen isn’t comforting since this unit has surrendered 31 sacks, the most in the NFL this year.
Bears secondary vs. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle
AP Photo/Marta Lavandier
The Bears’ defense has allowed the seventh fewest passing yards per game (188.0), but that stat is misleading considering how well teams have run the ball against Chicago.
Teams are gaining five yards per rush against the Bears’ defense, and Miami has a balanced attack with the ability to run the ball too, but the concern has to be in Chicago’s secondary. This season, the Bears have allowed quarterbacks to complete more than 65% of their passes, and Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has the third-highest completion percentage in the NFL.
It will be interesting to see how the Bears’ defense responds to giving up 250 yards passing last week at Dallas and allowing Dak Prescott to complete 78% of his passes. The Dolphins’ star wide receiver duo, Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, have combined for 211 yards and one touchdown per game.
It is hard to imagine that the Bears will continue to be seventh-best in passing yards allowed after this game.
The Bears can't stop teams on third down
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
The Bears’ defense ranks 31st on third down, allowing teams to convert a ridiculous 50.5% of their attempts. Last week, Dallas converted 82% of their third down attempts against the Bears in a 49-29 blowout loss. The Cowboys weren’t the first team Chicago allowed to convert better than 80% this season. The Vikings went 12-of-15 (80%) in a much closer 29-22 loss. These Bears are not the Monsters of the Midway.
The Dolphins only average 40% on third down conversions, which ranks 15th best in the NFL. But what Bears defense will show up, the one that allows 50% conversion, 80% conversion, or will Chicago hold the line on third down?