Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Chicago Bears [Print without images]

Sunday, November 17, 2013
5 things to watch: Ravens at Bears

By Michael C. Wright
ESPN.com

Here's a look at five things to watch for Sunday when the Chicago Bears host the Baltimore Ravens:

How Josh McCown handles second start: Opponents now can peruse seven quarters of game tape to try to figure out a way to defend McCown, who has completed 60 percent of his passes in relief of Jay Cutler for four touchdowns and no interceptions with a passer rating of 103.2.

Chicago's Josh McCown
Quarterback Josh McCown will need to utilize his mobility against a stout Ravens defense that ranks No. 3 in sacks through 10 weeks.
"You watch [Cutler and McCown] play and they look the same when they play as far as success," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "They've got go-to guys down the field. Intermediate, short, they've got a running back that can take, anytime he touches the ball, he can take it all the way. So they have very special weapons and they're using them very well."

The Ravens rank No. 3 in sacks, so McCown should see plenty of pressure when he drops back to pass. Composure and patience from McCown will be important. He's got to take care of the ball and remain composed during Baltimore's initial surge because it could take some time for the offensive line to adjust to the rush.

Zack Bowman filling in for Charles Tillman: Having played in 135 snaps, Bowman has been targeted by opposing quarterbacks 18 times in coverage for 12 completions for 164 yards and no touchdowns. So Bowman should be able to hold his own against Baltimore's receivers as the fill-in for Tillman, a two-time Pro Bowler, who is out for the remainder of the regular season.

Bowman has broken up three passes, and he picked off a pass in his only start against the New York Giants on Oct. 10.

"The thing I learned about Peanut is to just go out there and play football and have fun," Bowman said. "Obviously [I] just [have] to go out there and do my job. That's all I can do for our defense. [The Ravens are a] fast, fast team. They have a good back. They have a good quarterback. So we've got our hands full this week on defense."

Rookie linebackers: Jonathan Bostic and Khaseem Greene continue to show improvement, but they're still not exactly where the team would like for them to be at this point. Bostic struggled in his first two starts, but has picked up his play over the past two weeks.

In 205 snaps, Bostic has posted 25 combined tackles, including 1.5 for lost yardage. But he's also missed three tackles. Greene has participated in 41 snaps, and comes out of the game when the Bears go into nickel personnel. He's posted seven tackles over the last two weeks.

"They are improving and they're getting more experience. Each and every day, they get a little better," Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said. "That's what you want to see and not just with the young guys, but with all of the players. You have to work to improve and we just need to find a way to make more plays."

Run blocking: Chicago's offensive line struggled tremendously in the loss to Detroit in the run-blockng department, with the team finishing the game averaging a season-low 1.9 yards per attempt. If the Bears can't run the ball consistently, it makes them one-dimensional, thus predictable.

Bears coach Marc Trestman needs to see better results this week against another solid defense.

"When you lose a game, it's just a little bit more magnified that there's a lot of ifs involved, if we would have run inside instead of outside, if we would have been a little bit tighter, the little details that go with any aspect of the game, and the running game is inclusive of that," Trestman said. "If you're not detailed and one guy is doing it just a little bit differently and we're not in coordination with the other guys, that's what happens. I really can't be any more specific than that."

Pass rush: After a five-sack outing against the Green Bay Packers, the Bears failed to get to Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, who passed for 219 yards and three touchdowns. Pressuring Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco will be critically important, and the Bears should be able to have some success. Flacco has been sacked 30 times this season, and the quarterback has a tendency to hold onto the ball waiting for routes to develop.

"He's big. He's a lot more mobile than people expect," said defensive end/tackle Corey Wootton. "He can get outside the pocket. So contain is a big issue. He's holding the ball a little longer than most teams. So we ought to definitely be able to get after him."

Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger is another quarterback known to hold onto the ball, and the Bears managed to sack him three times during a Week 3 win.