Emma: 3 storylines to follow in Bears-Buccaneers matchup


LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) — Fresh off a frustrating loss to the Packers in their season opener, the Bears are hoping to bounce back.

The Bears (0-1) will visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0) on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium in a game that should reveal plenty about the character of this team. Kickoff is set for noon CT. Here are three key storylines to follow.

1. Playing the HITS
After reviewing film, Bears coach Matt Eberflus maintained he wasn't concerned about his team's effort in the loss to the Packers. But was that truly the case?

The Bears appeared to abandon Eberflus’ HITS principle in their first game. The hustle, intensity, takeaways and smart football that Eberflus desires was lacking out of the gates. Even so, Eberflus put forth a tone of confidence in addressing the media this week.

“Yeah, effort’s there," Eberflus said Monday. "Effort’s there, no doubt. The thing that we pride ourselves on is that. The big thing is the execution. The execution and winning those one-on-ones. Sometimes they win and sometimes we win, so it’s important that we look at those. And really that comes down to individual technique.

“We always look at those one-on-one matchups and again, we did a lot of good things. Obviously, a lot for improvement. And we’re looking forward to doing that.”

Eberflus did acknowledge mistakes as well. He pointed to the poor blocking from receiver Chase Claypool, who Eberflus indicated could be a healthy scratch from the lineup Sunday. The Bears defense also took a few poor angles and missed some tackles.

On the broadcast during the second half Sunday, FOX Sports sideline reporter Tom Rinaldi noted the Bears lacked intensity and competitive fire. That was when Chicago trailed by 11 points.

The Bears didn't force a turnover in the opener, and they committed seven penalties (61 yards), including a personal foul on the opening kickoff.

“I would just say this: It’s a long season, and we’re going to get better,” Eberflus said. “We’re going to focus on ourselves, and we’re going to improve.

“This is a little bump in the road. It’s adversity. Our guys have to persevere through that."

We’ll see if that’s the case Sunday.

2. More DJ
During the second quarter of the opener, quarterback Justin Fields connected with top target DJ Moore on consecutive strikes. Soldier Field erupted with excitement for its new No. 1 receiver.

That was the extent of Moore’s action during his first game with the Bears: two receptions for 25 yards on just two targets.

“It was definitely a disappointment,” Getsy said of Moore’s minimal role. “There are a lot of reasons why things happen. Protection could’ve broken down on a particular play for him, Justin maybe just didn’t see something on a particular play. There’s a lot of things that go into it. We’re definitely calling plays for DJ, and he knows that. He wasn’t frustrated by any of that. Sometimes, it’s just the way the coverage dictates where the quarterback has to go with the football too.

“He’s going to be a big part of that plan.”

Fields admitted that he was “too conservative” in the passing attack Sunday. He understands that Moore and Claypool need to be focal points of the offensive attack.

The Bears need to get Moore significantly more involved against the Buccaneers. Moore had 58 receptions for 766 yards and three scores over 10 games against Tampa Bay during his time with Carolina.

The Bears must prioritize Moore as part of their offense, Getsy said, but it also comes down to Fields taking chances downfield. Those elements were missing during the disappointing opening loss.

3. Fields vs. Bowles
When Fields lines up against the Buccaneers, he knows well that the pressure is coming.

Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles is considered one of the most aggressive defensive minds in football. In 2022, he called a blitz on 30.3% of plays – a mark that was actually down from 38.1% across the previous three years.

Fields was sacked an NFL-high 55 times in 2022, accounting for 14.7% of his dropbacks. He was sacked four times in the Bears' loss to the Packers.

The Bears know that Bowles and the Buccaneers are ready to bring the heat.

"Any time you play coach Bowles, that is what you have to prepare for,” Getsy said. “He is as good as anybody in the league at attacking you on offense, being aggressive.

“That’s who they are, that’s their makeup, that’s been that way. That’s a huge part of our plan.”

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Jamie Sabau/USA Today Sports