INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts don’t have to travel far for a Sunday Week 4 visit to the "Windy City" against their NFC brothers to the North, the Chicago Bears.
The Colts (2-1) are coming off back-to-back home routs, 36-7 against the New York Jets and 28-11 against the Minnesota Vikings.
The Bears (3-0), who have twice overcome double-digit deficits in the fourth quarter, are about to undergo a major shake-up on offense with Nick Foles starting at quarterback.
Kickoff at Soldier Field is at 1 p.m., EDT (CBS-4 TV).
Let’s look at the Bears.
We’re used to seeing Mitchell Trubisky under center for the Bears offense in the last four seasons, but he was benched in favor of Foles early in the second half after a faulty performance that ended with an interception at Atlanta on Sunday.
From there, Foles and the Chicago offense chipped away at a 16-point deficit that they erased over the final six and a half minutes of the game, finally pulling ahead inside the two-minute warning for a 30-26 victory.
Trubisky left a lot to be desired on the field before being pulled, going 13-of-22 passing (59.1%) for 128 yards, one touchdown, one interception, and being sacked twice for a passer rating of 71.8.
Foles entered and moved the offense much better. He was aggressive at throwing downfield and was 16-of-29 passing (55.2%) for 188 yards, three TDs, and one interception for a passer rating of 95.2.
Both quarterbacks had a couple of clear favorites through the air as wide receiver Allen Robinson II caught 10-of-13 targets for 123 yards (12.3 avg.) and a TD while tight end Jimmy Graham caught six-of-nine targets for 60 yards and a pair of scores.
The boxscore makes the Bears rushing attack look more productive than it was. They ran for 130 yards on 25 carries (5.2 avg.), but much of that was picked up on one Trubisky run of 45 yards. Otherwise, they had 85 yards on 24 carries (3.5 avg.). Runners were often met in the backfield by defenders through the center of the line.
David Montgomery had a team-high 45 yards on 14 carries (3.2 avg.).
Bears Passing Defense
Chicago (especially the rush) came through when needed late in the game, but Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan made some big-time throws throughout much of the first three quarters, especially going over the top of the Chicago defense with play-action passes.
Ryan finished 19-of-38 passing (50.0%) for 238 yards (6.3 avg.), one TD, and one interception (Tashaun Gipson Sr.), as well as two sacks (Akiem Hicks 1.5, Khalil Mack 0.5) for a passer rating of 67.7.
Hicks and Mack had especially big games for the Bears defense in their front seven, combining for nine tackles (two for loss), two sacks and seven quarterback hits. Pro Football Focus graded Mack as the NFL’s top pass-rusher of the week (93.0) while Hicks was 13th (82.3).
Bears Rushing Defense
Chicago did not have the greatest day defending the run. Atlanta ran for 144 yards and two TDs on 25 carries (5.8 avg.), led by Todd Gurley II’s 80 yards and a TD on 14 carries. Brian Hill also chipped in 58 yards and a score on nine carries.
There were multiple plays where Atlanta runners weren't touched by a defender until they were already several yards past the line of scrimmage. Hill’s 35-yard TD run is the biggest example.
The biggest cliffhanger of the week was announced right off the bat as Bears head coach Matt Nagy named Foles as the team’s starting quarterback. The Colts don’t have to prepare for multiple guys all week; they know the opponent.
On the opposite side of the ball is another familiar face in Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, the Colts head coach from 2012-17.
If the Colts rushing attack is working, then they should be able to utilize some chunk passing plays through play-action like Ryan and the Falcons.
Colts quarterback Philip Rivers has been very efficient with play-action through three weeks, going four-of-five for 30 yards with one TD, no interceptions, and a passer rating of 131.3.
Indianapolis is, however, a bit banged-up in the passing game after placing Parris Campbell (knee) on injured reserve and Michael Pittman Jr. had a procedure on his calf last week and will miss an undetermined amount of time.
In their absence, Daurice Fountain, Ashton Dulin, and Mo Alie-Cox should expect to continue seeing their playing time increase.
— QB Philip Rivers: 78.3% completions, 794 yards, 8.6 YPA, 3 TD, 3 INT, 2 sacks
— WR T.Y. Hilton: 10 catches (17 targets), 133 yards (13.3 avg.)
— RB Nyheim Hines: 13 catches (14 targets), 89 yards (6.8 avg.)
— WR Michael Pittman Jr.: 9 catches (12 targets), 73 yards (8.1 avg.)
— TE Mo Alie-Cox: 10 catches (11 targets), 181 yards (18.1 avg.)
The Colts’ offensive bread and butter is running the ball through Jonathan Taylor, Jordan Wilkins, and Nyheim Hines. Whether they’re running the ball or catching it (the trio’s 23 catches account for 31.8% of Rivers’ completions), those three stay involved.
With the Bears giving up what it did against Atlanta — and the fact they’re allowing 5.0 yards per carry on the season — the Colts are likely planning to attack with their trio of runners.
— RB Jonathan Taylor: 48 carries, 181 yards (3.8 avg.), 2 TD
— RB Jordan Wilkins: 18 carries, 79 yards (4.4 avg.)
— RB Nyheim Hines: 14 carries, 49 yards (3.5 avg.), 1 TD
— QB Philip Rivers: 5 carries, 6 yards (1.2 avg.)
It’s a new system for Foles, but the Colts are very familiar with him. Head coach Frank Reich and Foles were together with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017 and won a Super Bowl ring.
Following their time together, the next time the Colts faced Foles was Week 11 of last season when he was with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the host Colts smothered them, 33-13.
Foles is a much better, more-experienced passer than Trubisky. However, because Foles is far less of a threat to run than Trubisky, this may be a better matchup for the Colts if they're able to keep up the coverage they've executed in the last two weeks.
Since Week 2, the Colts are allowing just 140.5 passing yards per game, have five sacks, six interceptions, and two safeties while allowing an average opponent passer rating of 23.5.
The Colts Cover-2 defense is built to prevent deep downfield throws, and Foles was very aggressive in that area last week. Although he only played in the second half, he had the second-most throws pass attempts at least 20 yards downfield in the league with nine.
Robinson is a top-notch receiver, no doubt. He is big, strong, has great hands, and can create yards after the catch, so Chicago likes to get passes in every part of the field. Third-year receiver Anthony Miller should also be more involved now that he has a more consistent, accurate passer. At tight end, he may be older, but Jimmy Graham is still deadly in the red zone, catching back-shoulder passes, fades, and jump balls.
If Foles and the Chicago passing game do to the Colts what they did to Atlanta last week, it would be a total systematic meltdown for the Colts defense.
— QB Mitchell Trubisky: 59.3% completions, 560 yards, 6.5 YPA, 6 TD, 3 INT, 7 sacks
— WR Allen Robinson II: 18 catches (31 targets), 230 yards (12.84 avg.), 1 TD
— TE Jimmy Graham: 10 receptions (17 targets), 103 yards (10.3 avg.), 3 TD
— WR Anthony Miller: 6 receptions (14 targets), 117 yards (19.5 avg.)
— WR Darnell Mooney: 8 catches (11 targets), 93 yards (11.6 avg.), 1 TD
The Bears unfortunately lost running back Tarik Cohen to a torn ACL last week. While he wasn’t their main bell-cow back, he did provide a dangerous dynamic for their offense with his speed, agility, and pass-catching.
Now, it appears we'll see much more of Montgomery and Cordarrelle Patterson in the backfield. Patterson essentially becomes a bigger, more powerful version of Cohen as a multi-purpose weapon. To keep things interesting on the ground, Chicago may get Patterson and Miller more unique rush attempts.
— RB David Montgomery: 43 carries, 191 yards (4.4 avg.)
— RB Cordarrelle Patterson: 15 carries, 57 yards (3.8 avg.)
— RB Tarik Cohen: 14 carries, 74 yards (5.3 avg.)
— QB Mitchell Trubisky: 8 attempts, 87 yards (10.9 avg.)
Bears 2020 Key Stats
— Tied-5th in fourth down attempts (5)
— Tied-6th in yards per carry (4.9)
— 20th in scoring (24.7 PPG)
— 23rd in passing (230.0 YPG)
— Tied-25th in red zone scoring (50.0%)
— Tied-26th in yards per pass attempt (6.5)
— Tied-27th in interceptions thrown (4)
— 28th in third down conversions (35.7%)
— 2nd in third down conversions (31.0%)
— 2nd in opponent passer rating (71.4)
— 3rd in red zone scoring (41.7%)
— Tied-3rd in yards per pass attempt allowed (6.5)
— 9th in scoring (20.7 PPG)
— Tied-25th in yards per carry allowed (5.0)
— Tied-26th in fourth down conversions (100.0%)
Looking for a podcast? Check out the Bleav in Colts Podcast on the Bleav Podcast Network.
(Jake Arthur has covered the NFL and the Indianapolis Colts for nearly a decade and is a contributor for the team's official website, Colts.com. He’s on Twitter and Facebook @JakeArthurNFL, and his email is firstname.lastname@example.org.)