The Bears’ biggest worry on an offense full of worries was supposed to be their patchwork offensive line. And that was before they were due to meet a Philadelphia team that had nine sacks in its last game. Nine!
The Bears’ biggest worry on an offense full of worries was supposed to be their patchwork offensive line.
And that was before they were due to meet a Philadelphia team that had nine sacks in its last game. Nine!
“It’s been documented how much they are going to blitz us,” Chicago coach Lovie Smith said.
Good. Bring it on, say the Bears (1-2). They know if they can handle those blitzes by the Eagles (2-1) Sunday night, they’ll have chances to finally break a few big plays. Quarterback Kyle Orton’s longest completion in three games is 32 yards.
“Whey you have that style of defense, there is always room to make big plays,” said Brandon Lloyd, who caught six passes for 124 yards last week. “Sometimes defenses want to throw a bunch of stuff at you and hope that you don’t see the open guy, or hope that you panic and throw the ball away or throw it to a running back or throw it into coverage.”
The question is whether Chicago’s unproven line can handle the sophisticated blitzes of Philadelphia, which has gotten sacks from 10 different players.
“We’ll do different things – go no-huddle, change the cadence up, do different things to slow down the blitz,” right guard Roberto Garza said. “But they are going to come regardless of what we’re doing, so we’ve got to be ready for it.”
The Bears very well might be ready. Yes, the Eagles had nine sacks last week against one of the NFL’s best teams in the Pittsburgh Steelers, but Pittsburgh also holds the ball longer than most teams. The Bears throw quick passes, sort of like Tampa Bay, which threw 67 times without a sack against Chicago last week.
“They bring pressure until you show you can beat the pressure,” Orton said. “We will be ready for it. We have a different game plan that Pittsburgh does. We’re not the same style of offense. As long as we execute, they shouldn’t be able to get to the quarterback that often.”
The Eagles will surely be coming for him, though. The Bears like to run – Matt Forte ranks fourth in the NFL in rushing with 304 yards and leads the league with 73 carries – but the Eagles’ blitzers are even rougher on runners than passers. Philadelphia leads the NFL in rushing defense in both fewest yards per game (45.7) and lowest average rush (2.4).
So the spotlight is again on an offensive line that, so far, has been surprisingly competent, allowing six sacks in three games and helping Chicago average 152 yards rushing. But the line will need help.
“With their type of pressure, the entire offense has to handle it,” Orton said. “It just doesn’t fall on me or the running backs. The receivers have to be aware of it. The backs have to be aware of it. The tight ends, everyone has to be aware of it. And everyone has to execute.”
Chicago’s defense also feels the pressure after coughing up fourth-quarter leads the past two weeks. So bring on the Eagles’ blitz. The Bears feel pressure bearing down on them on all sides anyway, so what’s a little more?
“We can’t continue this downfall with another,” defensive end Adewale Ogunleye said. “Two games ago, it was turnovers. This last game it was not making the plays and penalties. Every week is going to be a different excuse until we get it stopped.
“All switches need to be flipped right now. We’ve got to go. No more excuses.”
Matt Trowbridge can be reached at (815) 987-1383 or email@example.com.
Bears keys to the game
Chicago receivers need to get open and they need to be where Kyle Orton expects them to be. There is no time to freelance against the Eagles’ blitz. “If you are supposed to run a slant, you run it,” receiver Brandon Lloyd said. “If you are supposed to run a hitch, run it. Don’t try to do anything outside of the scheme of the offense.”
Pass first, run later. The Bears have run, run, run the first half in their first three games, then opened up with the passing game a little more in the second half. It hasn’t worked: Chicago is next-to-last in the NFC in averaging 3.99 yards on first down, .04 yards ahead of the winless Rams. The Bears should reverse this trend, passing more in the first half and running more in the second after loosening things up with the pass.
Shorten the game. Chicago upset Philadelphia last year, partly because the Eagles had only eight possessions. The Bears are 7-0 the last three years when opponents have had 10 possessions or less. A more aggressive defense, full of blitzes and fake blitzes, this year has helped Chicago start especially fast on defense before wearing down when Carolina and Tampa Bay had 14 cracks to beat it. “We’re trying to play cat-and-mouse with everybody,” defensive end Adewale Ogunleye said. “It’s a chess game. We’re switching it up. That’s probably the reason we’re staring out fast.” So keep the game short enough that there’s no time for a slow finish.