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CAPACCIO: Bills Gameplan: How to Attack the Bears

By Sal Capaccio
Twitter: @SalSports


When the Bills are on offense


Let CJ, Fred, and Bryce Eat


The first thing that jumps out at me when I watch the Bears play defense is the inability of their linebackers to get to the point of attack against the run.  Lance Briggs is in his 12th season, about to turn 34 years old, and coming off an injury that caused him to miss eleven games last year.  Shea McClellin was an undersized DE who converted to LB and often has trouble getting off blocks.  DJ Williams is a former 1st round pick - ten years ago.  He's clearly on the backside of his career, indicated by the fact he's only started five games over the past two years.  The group is ripe for the Bills to take advantage of them on the ground, just like most teams did last year.


The Bears were historically bad stopping the run in 2013.  They allowed 161.4 yards per game on the ground.  That was almost 26 yards more than the next worst team (Atlanta, 135.8)!  It’s also the most yards allowed rushing per game for an NFL team since the 2010 Bills allowed 169.6.  And the Bears didn’t seem to fix the problem this offseason.  Chicago allowed 126.5 yards on the ground on average through their four preseason games.


Here’s a screenshot from the Bears third preseason game against Seattle.  Notice how out of position their linebackers are.  Marshawn Lynch gets the edge easily - and scores:


Into the soft belly

For the same reason the Bills should be able to run the ball, they should also look to hit the Bears with passes underneath the Chicago secondary.  There are some really big, soft holes there for Bills receivers (especially their running backs and tight ends) to settle into and get the ball in space. Two examples from the preseason:


In both cases, not one, but two receivers are wide open between the LBs and DBs.  It’s en vogue in Buffalo to knock the check down.  But that’s the area EJ Manuel may be able to exploit Sunday in Chicago.


When the Bills are on defense


Cutler is no Fred Astaire

Bears head coach Marc Trestman has done a really good job of designing protection schemes to keep Jay Cutler upright.  But the Bills may not have to sack him to make a difference.  With Cutler, he’s a tremendous passer when he’s comfortable, but prone to bad mistakes when he’s not.  According to ESPN’s Matthew Berry, Cutler had the league’s 6th best QBR when teams sent four or fewer pass rushers at him.  However, Cutler’s QBR was only 16th-best in the NFL against pressure.  The gap in actual rating was 75 vs 57.1.  That's a big difference.  So, when Cutler can set his feet, he's as deadly as any QB in the league.  But getting him to move, any which way he has to, will give the Bills defense their best chance for success.


Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz isn’t known as a huge blitzer.  But he may have to dial it up more in this one.   

Follow Sal on Twitter @SalSports

09/04/2014 9:16PM
CAPACCIO: Bills Gameplan: How to Attack the Bears
Please enter your comments below.
09/04/2014 9:55PM
Good write up. Thanks for posting.
09/05/2014 1:05AM
this is spot on
Someone forward this to Schoop -hell just take over his show Sal and actual football guy who knows his stuff how rare for gr.
09/05/2014 3:47AM
Sal or Joe?
who is more intuitive? "5 Things Joey"? or "Chalkboard Sally"? all we need now is "Crayon Simon" to put his 2 cent in?
09/05/2014 7:13AM
Only 1 flaw
Only 1 flaw in your offensive attack thought process. Hackett. You can show him this post, you can have the Bears personally confirm the accuracy of this post and he'll find a way to mess it up. He is the reason EJ will not progress and the offense will not live up to any expectation this year. How any OC can have this much talent and depth at the WR and RB positions and not know how to utilize them is crazy!
09/05/2014 8:45AM
Sal Is The Only Bright Light
Another great article by Sal.
09/05/2014 9:55AM
Good Stuff
Looking forward to the Bills making a game out of it. Your article gives me hope Sal. Thanks!
09/05/2014 10:27AM
In response to "this spot is on"
I totally stop listening to Schoop because of him,I like Bulldog but not too much of Schoop..Now I tune into Simon in the Morning...
09/05/2014 10:31AM
Question to Sal
Do you honestly think the Bears would be playing basic like this on Sunday? I think they are going to use alot of press coverage...and jam the middle,seeing that our Guards are suspect...
09/05/2014 11:45AM
No matter what just get the job done.
who cares about what the bears did last year. Do you think the bills are really look at those last years pictures. Hell no they wont, what are they going to do say "hey" thats just what they are going to do. Let the coaches coach and try and report the news right for a change idoits. For lol and you call yourself reporters.
09/05/2014 2:25PM
So we basically need to run the ball and pressure the passer ... that's a no brainer! That should be a strategy every week when we have an unproven QB, 4 deep RB backfield and one of the best pass rushing lines in the NFL. Tell us something that canreally help!
09/05/2014 3:08PM
Where have you seen the Bills attack any team these last (5) weeks?
09/05/2014 3:21PM
To the Mike Schopp basher. (little man syndrome)
Why don't you go confront Mike in person? The fans of Mike are tired of reading your trash. So either STFU or stop listening to WGR..............
09/05/2014 3:40PM
Get a more talented secondary and faster linebackers
Maybe if they had kept Byrd and Alonso was not injured they would have a decent chance of stopping the Bears. Without them though it looks to be a long day and a long season. This secondary is overrated and they really lack top end talent back there. A lot of this is based around a myth that Gilmore is a top tier CB or will soon become a top tier CB and that is just false. Gilmore will never, ever be a top corner in the NFL. Everyone else back there would struggle mightily to crack the starting lineup of any other team in the NFL. Corey Graham may be worthy of a starting position on a lot of other teams, but that is based on veteran reputation and past production alone. With Alonso out these LB's are pathetically slow in pass coverage. You will see this Sunday when Marshall, Jeffrey and Bennett cut through these LB's and secondary making them look like they are standing still. The Bills defense will not be ranked in the top half of NFL defenses in 2014.
09/05/2014 4:29PM
Defensive additions in the offseason...
Will undoubtedly help the Bears' run defense this year. Moving Shea McClellin to LB will help...and they also added Lamarr Houston, Jared Allen, Willie Young, Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton...all defensive linemen, all have relatively good size...and all of them, with maybe the exception of Jared Allen (decent-to-good against the run), were all brought in with a focus on stopping the run...just like they did last year to improve the offensive line. They were rated as having the #2 offseason, which doesn't mean much...but it is hard to ignore those additions, especially Houston and the two rookies, who were drafted in the 2nd and 3rd rounds...and both look to be pretty good. They also have Khaseem Greene from last year, who many Bills' fans wanted, and he is a pretty good LB. I think we have a shot, but we need to beat them throwing the ball...otherwise it might be a long day in Chicago. But, well done as usual, Mr. Sal...Go Bills!
09/05/2014 9:59PM
The Bills are no match for Bears
Bears 27 Bills 6
09/05/2014 10:41PM
RE: Get a more talented secondary and faster linebackers
You... are... stupid... 0 knowledge of football... and it's blatantly obvious... Sit in your lazy boy and shut the hell up.
09/06/2014 9:59AM
Re: To the Mike Schopp basher. (little man syndrome)
Well, unfortunately for you schopp fan, you are in the minority and you, internet tough guy, don't make the rules. You, schopp fan, can kiss up and suck on your favorite celebs body parts all you want, but don't expect others to play your game.
09/06/2014 10:26AM
Sal, Your Time Is Coming
Your addition to either the morning show with Howard, or the afternoon show with Chris, would make them both 100 times better to listen to than they are right now. I hope it happens for you soon.
09/06/2014 11:18AM
Re: In response to "this spot is on"
Now you got that idiot White to put up with.
09/06/2014 11:21AM
Expect a train wreck Sunday by Manuel
Bills lose. No further comment.
09/06/2014 2:31PM
To the Mike Schopp Basher
I would confront Schopp anyway but his screener won't let you through and by the way, I already stopped listening to him. The guy is clueless and I am not the only person who written off the afternoon show. Many folks I know here in Virginia do as well. I just back and wait for John murphy to come on at 7:00. Even John Murphy dropped hints on Friday night that he is tiring of "the other radio hosts" acts. The Bills have not been good and have missed the playoffs for 14 years but they are not as bad as Schopp makes them out to be. My point is this, if he is that smart, why isn't he coaching or working in the NFL? I'll answer my own question...he is not working in the NFL because he is not as smart as he thinks he. And for the record, I am 6 feet tall and 205.
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