Tom Brady has played at Soldier Field twice in his career. The New England Patriots visit only once every eight years, and Brady’s first trip to Illinois was for a game in Champaign in 2002.
Most recently, in 2018, Brady led the Patriots to a 38-31 victory at Soldier Field when Bears receiver Kevin White nearly scored a miracle touchdown as time ran out.
Two years later, Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are coming to Soldier Field for a Thursday night contest.
Here’s what to know about Brady’s Bucs:
Expect a heavy does of Ronald Jones, if not Leonard Fournette
Running back Leonard Fournette’s status moving forward is uncertain. Fournette missed Sunday’s win over the Los Angeles Chargers due to an ankle injury. In his absence, Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones carried the ball 20 times for 111 yards. Jones also caught six passes and was targeted nine times.
If Fournette is unable to play Thursday, which seems likely given the quick turnaround, Jones will remain heavily involved in the Buccaneers’ attack.
Running against this Bucs D is not easy
Tampa Bay is allowing 64.3 rushing yards per game, good enough for second in the NFL. Only the Pittsburgh Steelers (54 yards per game) rank better.
This is not good news for a Bears rushing attack that ran for 28 yards against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. The Colts rank fourth in this category at 77 yards per game.
Last week, the Chargers ran for only 46 yards against the Bucs. Austin Ekeler, the Chargers’ top running back, left the game with a hamstring injury in the first quarter. Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David has been a monster against the run and was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for September.
Tampa Bay protects the QB better than anyone
According to Pro Football Reference, the Buccaneers entered Week 4 allowing the QB to be pressured on 8.6% of passing plays, which ranked No. 1 in the NFL. The Chargers barely touched Brady on Sunday and had zero sacks.
Brady has been sacked just five times through four games. He has the fourth-most passing attempts of all quarterbacks, but is tied for 24th-most sacks. As an older quarterback, that time in the pocket has allowed Brady to play to his strengths.
Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks stated the obvious Sunday when he said his No. 1 goal Thursday is to sack Tom Brady. That might be easier said than done. But Brady and the Bucs haven’t had to deal with a pass rush as potent as the Bears’ pass rush.