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Happy Halloween to everyone! Hopefully your trick or treating plans can take place with a Bears win because hopping from house to house after a loss just seems kind of miserable. I'm in that awkward stage of feeling too old to put in a huge effort to go to Halloween parties, but I don't have kids to take trick or treating either so I can only assume that's how many of you with children would feel.
Anyway, it would be nice to see the Bears dress up as an offensive juggernaut for one day, right? With Matt Nagy out due to COVID-19 protocols and Khalil Mack out, could we see a drastically different team against the San Francisco 49ers?
Here are my three things to know heading into this potentially scary game.
1. Chris Tabor is coaching in place of Matt Nagy
The news broke on Saturday that Matt Nagy will still be in COVID-19 protocols and will miss his first game as head coach. This means special teams coordinator Chris Tabor will man the headset and serve as acting coach on Sunday. So, who is he?
Tabor is in his second stint with the Bears after joining Nagy's staff in 2018. He previously was the team's assistant special teams coordinator under Dave Toub from 2008-2010. Tabor is well traveled in the NFL and college football as well. He spent time at Utah State and Western Michigan in the mid-2000s, coaching multiple offensive position groups. Then in between both stints with the Bears, he was the special teams coordinator with the Cleveland Browns from 2011-2017.
Over the last few seasons, Tabor has been very average as special teams coordinator in my opinion. It remains to be seen what he can bring to the table as a head coach, but it will be interesting to see how the players respond to a new figurehead, even if it's just for one game.
2. The Bears offensive line should get a break against the 49ers front seven
The offensive line for the Bears has been beaten badly over the course of the season, particularly in the passing game. Through seven weeks, the Bears have allowed the most sacks in the league with 26. But they face a 49ers team that isn't to the quarterback. San Francisco has 12 sacks on the season and a pressure rate of 21.6 percent, seventh-worst in the league.
They're also missing key players up front. Javon Kinlaw, Maurice Hurst, Azeez Al-Shaair, and Dee Ford are all either out or doubtful due to injuries. This could be a bounce back game for Cody Whitehair, Sam Mustipher, and James Daniels. The interior of the offensive line have turned in worse days than a Jewel cashier on Thanksgiving. Perhaps they'll be able to settle in against San Francisco and give Justin Fields some time to process the field and throw.
3. Halloween has been a treat for the Bears
Are you ready for this week's useless fun fact/trend that shouldn't have any bearing on the game, but we like to think it does?
Since 2000, the Bears have only played on Halloween twice, but they've won both of their games. In 2004, this same matchup occurred with the Niners coming to town. Chicago won in ugly fashion 23-13 in one of the few bright spots of a dreadful season.
The other game also came at Soldier Field, this time against the Minnesota Vikings in 2016 on Monday night. Sandwiched between World Series games for the Cubs, the Bears were able to catch some of the winning fever too, for one day at least. They beat the Vikings 20-10 thanks to Jordan Howard's 153 rushing yards. It was also Jay Cutler's last victory in a Bears uniform. He threw for 252 yards and a touchdown in the win. (The Bears would win only once more that season, beating San Francisco on December 4 with Matt Barkley under center.)
What do these past performances have to do with this week's game? Absolutely nothing. But perhaps there's a haunting spirit that allows this football team to experience joy on this particular day. It wouldn't surprise me given how miserable the other 364 days can be. Let's see if the Bears can continue to treat their fans and go 3-0 on Halloween.