The Pittsburgh Steelers will play their eighth regular season game of 2021 at home Monday night against the Chicago Bears, and they’ll likely enter that contest marked as a pretty big favorite of more than six points. Below are five key things that I believe the Steelers will need to do in the game Monday night in Pittsburgh to come away with their fifth win of 2021 season.
Must Field Fields At Heinz Field – If there’s one thing that we have learned about Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields these last few games, it’s that he’s not afraid to run with the football. While Fields hasn’t had very many designed runs so far during his rookie season, the Ohio State product has still managed to rush 44 times in total for 243 yards and two touchdowns. The Steelers’ defense must be cognizant of Fields’ mobility on Monday night. Pass rushers must practice rush lane integrity throughout the game, especially during third and long situations. Don’t be surprised if the Bears decide to use Fields in more designed runs against the Steelers in addition to booting him out into space via misdirection after the snap. Fields will probably be the most mobile quarterback that the Steelers’ defense has faced since Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen in Week 1, and it will be interesting to see how that unit handles him. Limiting the damage Fields does with his legs will go a long way in helping the Steelers ultimately win the game.
Light Up The Kindle – Bears cornerback Kindle Vildor has had a rough season to date, and on Monday night, Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger should attack his coverage and tackling skills early and often. The Steelers need to get their deep passing game on track, so any time Vildor is in man coverage with just one deep safety behind him, Roethlisberger should go after him. Steelers’ wide receivers Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson both figure to have the skills needed to beat Vildor deep a time or two. Additionally, wide receiver screens to Vildor’s side should also be considered to test the tackling skills of the cornerback.
Bear Down With The Run – The Bears’ run defense has not been great so far this season. In fact, against opposing running backs so far this season, the Bears’ defense has allowed a run success rate of 54.8 percent. On top of that, the Bears’ defense has allowed 29 runs of 10 yards or longer so far this season, and entering Week 9, that was the third-most allowed by an NFL team. The Steelers’ running game has improved steadily the last three weeks, with rookie running back Najee Harris playing a big part in that. Against the Bears on Monday night, the Steelers need to run Harris early and often and between the tackles at that, and sometimes as part of RPO decisions. There’s no reason to get cute Monday night. The Steelers need to build on their run success as of late, and the Bears’ defense is primed to be run on in primetime.
Respect Mr. Robinson In His Neighborhood – There seems to be a lot of talk about Bears’ wide receiver Darnell Mooney ahead of the Monday night game and for good reason, as he’s a talented young player. Even so, Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson is still the best skill position player on the team, despite him not having a great season to date. Remember, Robinson is a Penn State product, and the Bears would love to get him back on track Monday night in his old stomping grounds. Robinson is dangerous both deep and after the catch on short passes. Look for the Bears to try to get a quick passing game going Monday night against the Steelers, with Robinson likely to be the focal point of it. If Robinson has a 100-yard receiving game against the Steelers Monday night, it would be his first of the season. Such a performance would likely result in a Bears’ Monday night road win, as well.
Don’t Get Beat By The Steelers – As of Monday morning, the Steelers were consensus seven-point home favorites over the Bears, and with good reason. This is a Monday night game that the Steelers should win. However, if the Steelers incur too many penalties Monday night in addition to turning the football over a few times, the Bears can and likely will pull off an upset. The Bears have a rookie quarterback playing Monday night in a very hostile environment, and in primetime at that. Quite simply, the Steelers can’t allow themselves to be beaten by the Bears Monday night. It’s probably the only way they lose to the Bears Monday night at Heinz Field.