By Wanda Wiedman / @WandaW63
The Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0) will head to Soldier Field to make it a 3-0 start against the Chicago Bears (0-2), who look to overcome a horrendous outing last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Though sports media networks and sports writers have given their opinion and assessment of this matchup, it seems only right to ask fans how they feel about their team in this game.
To share their opinion on these two teams is Bear Fan extraordinaire and Editor at Windy City Gridiron, Lester Wilfong Jr., and Raymond Vega, Los Angeles Sheriff and Steelers fan.
Since the game is being hosted in Chicago, let’s start with Lester.
Q: Lester, as an Editor for WindyCityGridiron.com you try to be objective. But through the eyes and heart of a fan, did you expect the Bears to start off the season 0-2?
L: As much as I thought the Bears would be an improved team over a year ago, I still had them opening up with a loss to Atlanta and a loss to the Bucs. Atlanta is the defending NFC Champ, and Tampa Bay was a 9-7 team last year with some good, young talent. I didn’t expect them to look as lost last week, however. Unfortunately for us Bears’ fans, this team may be looking at another double-digits in the loss column.
Q: One of the pickups this offseason happened to be Marcus Wheaton from the Pittsburgh Steelers. With his possible return this Sunday, do you see him being utilized in the air to make a difference in the passing game against his former team?
L: I was a bit surprised they gave him as much money as they did ($6M guaranteed), but they must have seen something form him the two seasons he wasn’t hurt (2014 and 2015). He really flashed as a big play receiver in 2015, when he averaged 17 yards per catch. He’s a good athlete, he has really good speed, but he also hasn’t had much practice time since the summer. He had an appendectomy as camp got underway, then when he came back from that, he broke his pinky. He may be on a snap count, but if the Bears can take advantage of his speed in spurts, it might open up the offense a little for them. Then again, with Mike Glennon at quarterback, it may not matter.
Q: The Bears defense has been pretty good in stopping the run against Atlanta and the Bucs. Do you think they will do the same with Le’Veon Bell? And do you believe that pressuring the QB is key?
L: Bell has had a slow start after holding out all offseason (3.2 yards per carry), so he may not be in the best of shape. Then again, knowing the Bears’ luck, this will be the week he breaks out. When you have an offense with so many playmakers like the Steelers do (Bell, Roethlisberger, Brown, Bryant), it’s best to pick one aspect and focus on slowing that down, but in this case, trying to make Big Ben beat you would be like picking your poison.
The Steelers are a bit suspect at left tackle, something our guys discussed on WCG Radio this week, so this could be the perfect time for Leonard Floyd to show some of the promise most fans expected in year two. The Steelers are stout up the middle, but between Eddie Goldman and Akiem Hicks, they could collapse the pocket. The key is going back to question three. If they can slow down the running game, and get Pittsburgh in obvious passing situations, then Floyd, Willie Young, and maybe Pernell McPhee, can get after them off the edge.
Q: Any bold predictions?
L: I will say that if Glennon has as bad a first half this week, as he did last week, we’ll see Mitchell Trubisky in at quarterback.
Now it’s the Steelers turn. On to you, Ray!
Q: How do you think the Steelers defense will do against the Bears rushing attack?
R: Well, linebacker T.J. Watt got hurt last week so that will hurt us a bit even if he plays. I was disappointed they didn’t play James Harrison because it could have made a difference. They will have to keep Glennon in check and running back Jordan Howard. Howard is due for a breakout game.
Q: Do you consider the Steelers offensive front better than last season and will they be able to handle the pass rush pressure that the Bears defense will produce?
R: (Chuckles) Well, I’m not schooled at the offensive line, but I think they will handle the rush based on all the offensive weapons the Steelers have this year. A healthy Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant free from suspension make for a good duo. I don’t think the Bears will be able to cover them all. I would look to Bell and rookie James Conner to have a good game. Watch for the Steelers to use Bell on screen plays.
Q: Big Ben has made it a point to try and not force the rock to wide receiver Antonio Brown, due to costly interceptions when he does. But if he is pressured due you think he may revert to turning the ball over?
R: I don’t think he will. Like you mentioned he’s made it a point not to. He’s not afraid to take criticism from teammates either. If Antonio Brown is unhappy, I don’t think it will faze him much. He’s got so many weapons this year. If Bears double team Brown, you still have Bryant and rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster, so there is no need to force the ball. I think few teams are going to be able to contain this offense. Kind of reminds me of the Packers and Saints offense. The ball can be spread around everywhere this year!
So there you go! The Steelers are ready to dominate and the Bears are trying to make something happen.
Best of luck to both teams!
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