Behind Enemy Lines: Previewing the Texans’ Week 3 encounter in Chicago with Bears Wire

·4 min read

The Houston Texans and the Chicago Bears are looking to prove in Week 3 they aren’t just inconsistent squads with new coaches. A win at Soldier Field for either side can infuse optimism back into their seasons.

For the Texans, the 0-1-1 record is obtuse, and while they technically have a winning percentage, Houston still feels like a loser because they haven’t cracked the goose egg in the win column.

The Bears are in similar but more optimistic territory. At 1-1, the team is at a crossroads where they can catch a winning streak to validate the Justin Fields selection and the Matt Eberflus hire.

To help preview the Week 3 tilt between the Texans and Bears, Alyssa Barbieri, managing editor of the Bears Wire, stopped by to answer a few questions about the 1-1 Bears.

Which Bears are the real Bears after two weeks?

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AB — It’s hard to evaluate this team after just two games, especially considering their inconsistent performances between Weeks 1 and 2. They’re a young team that’s in rebuilding mode, and the fact that they’re 1-1 after two weeks is encouraging. But there are concerns with the passing game and run defense, as well as the development of Justin Fields in Year 2. While they’re not going to be competing for the playoffs, they’re a team that’s going to keep things competitive before landing a top-10 draft pick next spring.

How have the Bears taken on the identity of Matt Eberflus?

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texans-frank-ross-super-happy-bears-matt-eberflus

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AB — It’s been evident from the start that this team has embraced the culture implemented by Matt Eberflus. The H.I.T.S. principle informs everything that this team is expected to do – hustle, play with intensity, generate takeaways and play smart, disciplined football. It’s the reason they were able to upset the 49ers (along with some help from Mother Nature). They got away from it in the Packers game, but it’s something they should get back to in this game.

Who has a more meh receiving corps: Houston or Chicago?

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Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

AB — That’s a good question. It’s hard to evaluate this Bears receiving group through two games given the passing game has been pretty much non-existent with Justin Fields attempting just 28 passes. Darnell Mooney, despite his slow start, remains the cream of the crop at receiver. Equanimeous St. Brown has emerged as a top option for Fields, which makes sense given his experience in this scheme. But behind them, there are a lot of questions. Rookie Velus Jones Jr. has been sidelined with a hamstring injury, Byron Pringle and Ihmir Smith-Marsette haven’t been involved and Dante Pettis has just one 51-yard touchdown reception to his name. For those reasons, I’d have to give the edge to Chicago being more meh.

Is Lovie Smith returning to Chicago still even a thing?

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Yeah, the whole “Lovie Smith revenge game” storyline is a little played out considering it’s been 10 years since he was in Chicago, and he’s had multiple coaching stops along the way. Still, Smith is held in high regards by Bears fans given that was the last great era of Bears football, which included multiple playoff appearances, dominant defenses, and a Super Bowl appearance. Smith’s return to Chicago is definitely storyline but not the storyline.

Who are some unheralded Bears Houston fans need to keep an eye on?

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This is a mostly retooled roster under Ryan Poles, and there are a number of unknowns Texans fans should be aware of. Starting on defense, the Bears’ pass rush has been impressive through two games, where under-the-radar guys like Trevis Gipson and Dominique Robinson have multiple sacks. Top draft picks cornerback Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker have had up-and-down starts in their rookie season, but they’re a big part of this Chicago secondary. On offense, receiver Equanimeous St. Brown has emerged as WR2 behind Darnell Mooney, where he’s shown his versatility in the passing game and as a blocker. While running back David Montgomery will get a bulk of the carries on Sunday, expect to see plenty of backup Khalil Herbert, who has been a standout in Year 2.

What is your prediction?

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Following a brutal loss to the Packers, I see Eberflus rallying his squad and coming away with a win at home. This game will come down to which team makes the least mistakes, and I see the Bears getting back to playing smart, disciplined football that helped them come away victorious in Week 1. Bears 20, Texans 13

Story originally appeared on Texans Wire