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Familiar Texans Coach and Scheme

The current Bears don't remember him but Texans coach Lovie Smith returns to Soldier Field Sunday to try to beat his old team for the first time.

After the way the Bears offensive has looked in the first two games against two of the league's better defenses, Justin Fields could use some help.

He could get it, and it's not simply the fact that Sunday's opponents are a winless Houston Texans team that went 4-13 and 4-12 the last two seasons.

Because the Texans are coached by former Bears coach Lovie Smith and he acts as his own defensive coordinator, Fields will be looking at a defensive he is very familiar with in several respects.

It's basically his team's defense.

"Their defense and our defense kind of come from the same family branch," Fields said. "A lot of the same stuff. They play hard.

"I don't think they have one, so to say what everybody would, a star player on that team. But I'll give them credit. They play hard, they play fast, they play similar to us. So, it's going to be a hard fight all day."

They have played similar to the Bears defense in another respect. The Bears are 22nd on defense and last against the run. The Texans are 30th on defense and next to last against the run.

Beyond that, the scheme is similar but not entirely the same. Smith had four years at University of Illinois to add in some college parts to what he brought there after coaching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers two seasons following his 2012 firing in Chicago.

"I think it's helpful," coach Matt Eberflus said. "It's like the first week (49ers offense)—it was a little bit different but very similar.

"So I think that's very helpful in terms of early execution during the week, but it's gotta be sustained, consistent execution."

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It's similar to the Bears defense in another respect beyond the fact that they both play a version of the Tampa-2.

Like the Bears, they are trying to blend in two rookie defensive backs in safety Jalen Pitre and cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. It's been a tough go so far.

However, the Texans have allowed only two touchdowns in seven trips by opponents to the red zone, so they do get tougher when it counts.

They allowed Indianapolis just 20 points in a season-opening tie. Then they gave up just 16 last week to Russell Wilson and their offense scored only nine in a loss to Denver.

Smith hasn't had much team success since former Bears GM Phil Emery fired him with a 10-6 mark at the end of the 2012 season. His two Tampa Bay teams in 2014-15 were 2-14 and 10-6. At Illinois, his teams went 3-9, 2-10, 4-8 and 6-7.  Last year he was defensive coordinator for David Culley's Texans, who were 4-13.

The Bears faced Smith twice since he was fired. In 2014, Marc Trestman's team beat Tampa Bay 21-13 in November at Soldier Field, rallying from a 10-7 deficit on two Matt Forte touchdown runs. In 2015, John Fox's first Bears team beat the Buccaneers 26-21 in Tampa in the next-to-last game of the season behind a touchdown run and reception from Ka'Deem Carey and four Robbie Gould field goals.

"He's had his units playing the right way, has respected the game the right way, and the accomplishments he's had," Eberflus said of Smith, who had the Bears in Super Bowl XLI in February of 2007. "He's been a head coach for a long time and he's been steady that way and really good.

"I just appreciate that from him. And what kind of man he is, too, just from hearing from coach Rod (Marinelli) and everybody else, coach (Tony) Dungy, all of the guys I have contact with more, just what they say about him."

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