Message for Bears: Rams Game Is Only One of 17

The season opener gets hyped but considering the formidable task and how far they've come, the Bears would do well to remember there are 16 more of them this year.
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Considering his experience in the league at leading a team, it's not surprising Bears quarterback Andy Dalton summed up the entire situation for Sunday night's season opener in a few short words.

"There's a lot that's gone on since March, but all that's led to this point right here," Dalton said.

An offseason when the Bears almost revised their offense to the point of rebuilding it, replaced almost a full coaching staff on the defensive side and most of all dumped their project quarterback of four years for the future of the franchise and a bridge for this season come to a head in SoFi Stadium.

BEARS AT RAMS: NBC, 7:20 P.M. KICKOFF, WBBM RADIO AM-780

Yet, they can't lose perspective.

It didn't come off smoothly and this is the reason for much of the anticipation if not anxiety over the 7:20 p.m. kickoff against the Los Angeles Rams, a team regarded by many as Super Bowl-ready.

They had injuries along the way, left tackle Teven Jenkins being the main one to disrupt their plans. Starting 39-year-old tackle Jason Peters was never in the plans until late in the game. 

Not having nose tackle Eddie Goldman completely healthy and ready for the opener because of an ankle injury definitely throws a wrench into stopping the Rams because the winner of this game the last three years has been the one rushing for quite a bit more yardage than the other. And Goldman has always helped the Bears keep rushing totals down.

With Khalil Mack and Roquan Smith leading Sean Desai's defense against Matthew Stafford and the Rams offense, the Bears feel comfortable they can have one side of the ball covered.

The offensive side is entirely different. They've shown nothing in preseason.

"When you get to the season you take everything that you did in the offseason and now you've got to bring it to Sunday," wide receiver Allen Robinson said.

So maybe they've actually got nothing and Nagy is holding a dead hand, in poker terms. Then perhaps they get moving forward with the plan to get rookie quarterback Justin Fields up and going, but no one should count on this just yet.

"It's a really good defense and we're going to face a lot of good defenses this year, and that's why you play this game," Dalton said. "This is why you prepare and the way you prepare and you get ready for these games because they all mean a lot. This is going to be a good test to start the year."

Whether they can keep Dalton free of menacing pass rushers like Aaron Donald and former Bear Leonard Floyd remains a major concern.

Getting the ground game going would help, and David Montgomery has scored rushing touchdowns in six consecutive games. But the Rams are no less effectively defensively on the ground, as they were third last year stopping the run.

The opponent is only part of the problem in this case. The Bears are playing in their third prime-time season opener under Nagy and handling the hype is a huge aspect of it all. The Bears lost both of those to the Green Bay Packers, the first one in dramatic, heart-breaking style and the second when they failed to score a touchdown.

"But at the end of the day it's a Week 1 game, we can't take it for granted, one," Robinson said. "But we also can't make it bigger than what it is. I know it's a lot of excitement for the fans, a lot of excitement for everybody but at the end of the day we've got to lock in and be focused on the task at hand."

Nagy has had a full offseason to prepare this game plan, the players have pointed to it, the fans and the media. 

They don't want to get to L.A. and suffer paralysis through over-analysis. It's happened before to them, like in 2019.

"What can happen big picture is, sometimes you go into training camp, you go into Week 1, you know your opponent for months and months and months and before you know it you have this menu that's really big with what you wanna do," Nagy said.

Then, nothing gets done.

It may have all led to this point, like Dalton said. Fortunately for the Bears considering their opponent, it doesn't end here.

There are 16 more like it after this one in this season and they need to keep this in mind because the schedule they face is the third-toughest in the league this season.

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