The Bears will look to improve to 3-3 at home Sunday when they host the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field. Here are four storylines to watch in the game:
(1) Will the Bears defense rebound from a sub-par performance against the Packers?
The Bears defense capped an impressive first half of the season with a flourish, generating eight takeaways and returning three of them for touchdowns in a three-game span against the Ravens, Panthers and Saints. But the unit struggled last Sunday against the Packers, allowing a season-high 160 yards rushing and failing to force a turnover in a disappointing 23-16 loss.
Bears defensive players Akiem Hicks, Christian Jones and Adrian Amos.
For the Bears to beat the Lions Sunday, the defense needs to revert to the form it displayed prior to last weekend's defeat. "You've got to have a short memory in this league," said defensive end Akiem Hicks. "You've got to take it game-by-game; all the cliché statements you can think of. But at the end of the day, you've got to lock into your next opponent because they don't care what happened last week. They want to beat you. So you have to have that mindset where, ‘OK, you didn't get the results you want last week, but you're coming in fighting this week.'"
It appears that the defense will have to play without leading tackler Danny Trevathan for the second straight week; the inside linebacker did not practice all week due to a calf injury.
(2) Will Bears rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky take another step in his development?
Trubisky's fifth NFL start last Sunday against Green Bay was his most productive to date; the first-round pick from North Carolina completed 21 of 35 passes for 297 yards with one touchdown and a 97.0 passer rating. Trubisky will look to build on that performance while also reducing the number of sacks he's taken by getting rid of the ball more quickly. The rookie has been sacked 16 times this season, including five times last Sunday against Green Bay.
"Ball security is very important, so I'm just trying to take care of the football," Trubisky said. "But at the same time you want to stay aggressive and you could say the sacks are a result of that. The o-line has been playing their butts off and they've done a really good job in protection, so the sacks are more on me holding into the football than a breakdown in protection.
"They've been doing an awesome job. I just have to continue to go through my progressions, get the ball out and find the checkdowns. The more I play within the offense, I think you'll see growth and me getting the checkdowns and getting the ball out of my hands. That's just where I need to take another step."
(3) Will the Bears defense be able to contain Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford?
Detroit doesn't typically run the ball exceptionally well, but the Lions boast a dangerous passing game that ranks eighth in the NFL and is led by Stafford. The veteran quarterback is a traditional pocket passer with a strong arm as well as the athleticism to extend plays with his feet.
Stafford has completed 62.6 percent of his passes for 2,461 yards with 17 touchdowns, five interceptions and a 96.3 passer rating that ranks 10th in the NFL. "He's extremely talented," said coach John Fox. "I think a lot of people can see that. He's been good in the clutch. He's been in that system for a minute. He has adapted very well to it. He's very capable. They put up a lot of points. I think they are sixth in the league in scoring. So they are very potent."
Veteran Golden Tate leads the Lions with 56 catches for 659 yards and three touchdowns. "He's just a very good receiver," said defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. "He's a really good runner after the catch. He's kind of built like a running back and runs like one. Once he gets the ball in his hands, he's a double threat—not just catching it but then after he catches it what he does with it."
(4) Will the Bears get rookie running back Tarik Cohen more involved in their offense like he was earlier in the season?
After catching 8, 8, 4 and 4 passes in the first four games of the season, Cohen has been limited to one reception in each of the last five contests. Getting the dynamic rookie more touches was a main topic of conversation throughout the week at Halas Hall, at least during press conferences.
Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains explained that Cohen's playing time is being limited in part due by how opposing defenses are scheming the Bears coupled with the rookie's lack of experience with pass protection and pass routes.
"Eventually at some point he will grow more into the third-down and two-minute roles as he continues to progress," Loggains said. "Right now he's playing more receiver. We have to do a really good job of finding ways for him [to get more touches] because there is only one ball and if you're giving [Jordan] Howard carries, it's hard to get Tarik carries. So he's a game-plan player for us; we use him in specific ways and we're going to continue to do that."