Chicago Bears: 3 matchups to exploit against the Arizona Cardinals

Chicago Bears (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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Charles Leno Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

Chandler Jones vs. Charles Leno, Jr.

The biggest threat on the defensive side of the ball for the Cardinals will no doubt come from defensive end Chandler Jones. The 6-foot-5, 265-pound pass-rusher is coming off a career year in which he recorded a whopping 17 sacks.

But beyond the sacks, he was adept at getting pressure on the quarterback, which can be as good, if not better than sacks. According to Pro Football Focus, in 2017 he ranked in the top-30 in terms of pass rushing.

He will more than likely face Bears’ left tackle Charles Leno, Jr. The much-maligned Leno has probably received more criticism in recent years than he deserves. In fact, he has steadily improved in both run and pass blocking. He has certainly benefitted this year from his relationship with the great Harry Hiestand.

Through the first two weeks, the Bears have failed to take shots downfield. Despite preaching an aggressive approach this season, Nagy has been surprisingly conservative in the passing game. In fact, Trubisky is near the bottom of the league in terms of yards per pass attempt at 7.7. The only quarterback with a worse average will be on the field Sunday as well — Sam Bradford.

If the Bears have any thoughts of taking shots downfield — particularly against one of the league’s worst defenses, the offensive line will need to give Trubisky time. The only real threat in terms of pressure will come from Jones, which means the pressure — no pun intended — will be on Leno to hold up and keep Trubisky upright.

As the above graphic shows, Trubisky actually fares pretty well in the face of pressure. However, no quarterback throws the ball well while lying on his back.

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So long as Leno can at least adopt a bend but don’t break approach, Mitch should be able to handle the pressure, and the Bears should be able to handle the Cardinals.

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