The Patriots defense is on a roll, putting together a pair of dominant performances in recent weeks.
They shut out the Lions in Week 5, and surrendered just 15 points to the Browns last week.
Next are the Bears, who have the second-worst scoring offense (15.5 ppg), the worst passing offense, and sit near the bottom in nearly every major offensive category.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, however, prepared him to make sure his team, especially the defense, wouldn’t take him lightly.
He called quarterback Justin Fields “a big threat” every time he touched the ball.
While true, he didn’t mention that Fields was one of the worst-rated quarterbacks in the NFL after six weeks.
“I think he is a very talented player who is getting better all the time. Honestly, a lot of players on this team are like that,” Belichick said of Fields and the Bears. “They’re a team that every time you watch them play, you see some of their young players a little bit. are better. They have a lot of them. This is a team that has improved a lot in six weeks.
That said, here’s how the Patriots defense can stop Fields on Monday Night Football.
1. Filling the run
Belichick compared the Bears’ run game to a pair his team faced last week in Cleveland.
“(Khalil) Herbert and (David) Montgomery are great. The running game is with Cleveland,” Belichick said. “I mean, they literally have the same amount of yardage. I think Herbert leads the league in yards per carry. He’s very tough to tackle.”
While Herbert and Montgomery don’t hold a candle to Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, they still hold the key to the Patriots’ defense.
Including mobile fields, the Bears’ rushing attack has big-play potential. He is second in rushing yards per game (170) and seventh in rushing average (5.2 yards per rush). Fields can definitely beat you with his legs, as he has forced 16 missed tackles as a runner this season. That’s tops in the league for quarterbacks.
So it’s up to the Patriots to maintain the integrity of their rushing lanes and make sure they ground the Bears’ running attack.
2. Make the fields pass
The Bears’ second-year quarterback, a former Ohio State star, hasn’t been able to adapt well enough to the NFL or understand defenses on a regular basis.
His 73.1 career passer rating is proof of that. That’s why throwing the football down the field, especially from the pocket, is so important.
If the Pats can successfully stop the run, the goal will be to throw Fields the football to beat them.
Helping matters is the fact that the Bears’ offensive line hasn’t been very good when it comes to protection. Fields has been sacked a league-worst 23 times, tied with Washington’s Carson Wentz.
Some of those sacks are on Fields holding the ball too long, in part, because he doesn’t have many weapons in the passing game outside of receiver Darnell Mooney. Old friend N’Keal Harry could see his first action against his former team. No doubt, he would try to provide Fields with an outlet.
But Petes must know how to defend Harry, and fluster Fields in the process.
Being a young, inexperienced quarterback, there will be plenty of confusion for Belichick & Co. Will dial to make him miserable.
3. Create turnover
The Bears are in the top five in the league when it comes to turning the ball over.
Five quarterback fields have come via throwing picks, the other five via fumbles.
Of late, the Patriots have really come to force turnovers. They are tied for the top of the league with 12.
So with the Bears’ penchant for turning the ball over, and the Patriots one of the most opportunistic defenses in the league, this is the perfect storm.