Preview: Bears must be careful to avoid trap vs. Jaguars
BY MARK POTASH email@example.com October 6, 2012 4:30PM
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew (32) runs up the middle during the second half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, in Jacksonville, Fla. Cincinnati Bengals beat Jacksonville Jaguars 27-10. (AP Photo/Stephen Morton)
Updated: October 7, 2012 2:48PM
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Even the questions are dangerous this week.
‘‘Is there anything that Jacksonville does in the passing game that makes you guys nervous?’’ a reporter asked Bears safety Chris Conte on Thursday.
However unwittingly, that is our contribution to the setup of a classic ‘‘trap’’ game. Conte did his best to answer the no-win question without providing the Jaguars with bulletin-board material. But sometimes just hearing a question like that can subliminally plant a seed that this is going to be too easy.
‘‘I don’t want to go out there and say anything,’’ Conte said, ‘‘but nothing that we haven’t seen before. Playing teams like Green Bay really tested us. I think playing against Jacksonville, they don’t have . . . the same kind of passing game the Packers do.
‘‘But you can’t take anything for granted. You’ve got to . . . prepare the same way for other teams.’’
This is the challenge against the Jaguars on Sunday at EverBank Field. The Bears and Jay Cutler showed some fortitude in beating the Cowboys on ‘‘Monday Night Football’’ at Cowboys Stadium. But the game against the Jaguars could tell us just as much, if not more, about their character.
The Bears not only are battling the adversity of a road game on a short week, but they’re fighting human nature. Coming off a big victory and with their bye next week, it’s almost impossible to avoid the trap.
Not only are the Bears (3-1) a better team than the Jaguars (1-3), but the matchups are decidedly in their favor:
† The Bears’ defense is second in the NFL in points allowed (13.5 per game); the Jaguars are last in points scored (15.5).
† The Bears are first in sacks per pass play; the Jaguars are 29th in sacks allowed.
† The Bears’ defense, which is third in rushing yards allowed, is built to stop the Jaguars’ biggest strength: running back Maurice Jones-Drew.
† And the Jaguars appear to be no threat to expose the Bears’ biggest weakness: protecting the quarterback. The Jaguars have two sacks, none in the last three games.
Anything can happen in the NFL, but the Bears should win this game if they put their mind to it. There’s the rub: It’s called a trap game because you often can’t avoid it. Telling yourself you’re not going to get caught in a trap doesn’t mean you won’t. Sometimes it ensures you will.
Offensive coordinator Mike Tice caught himself addressing the bye week when he was asked about it Wednesday.
‘‘I think the bye week is good because I’ve already got a list about as long as my arm of things that we need to work on,’’ Tice said. ‘‘The bye week for us will be really good. We were talking about it last night.’’
‘‘Right now, I’m not worried about a bye,’’ Tice said. ‘‘Because now Jacksonville reads that, and I’m talking about the bye and not talking about them. Jacksonville is a very good football team. We can’t go down there thinking that, ‘Oh, yeah, we’ve arrived,’ [by] any stretch of the imagination.’’
Tice stepped into the trap and worked his way out of it. It remains to be seen whether he emerged unscathed.