In this week’s edition of ‘Take 2,’ Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times and Kevin Fishbain of Pro Football Weekly discuss a Bears pass rush that was ineffective against the Cowboys and needs to get going to help turn things around.
Fishbain: There was a big goose egg in the box score for the Bears under sacks in Sunday night’s loss to the Cowboys, Patrick (though to be fair, the Bears’ offensive line didn’t allow a sack, either). John Fox will tell us that we can’t simply judge based on sacks — OK, the Bears had one quarterback hit. One! And they only had one tackle behind the line of scrimmage. I know this is a front seven that was missing Eddie Goldman, Danny Trevathan and Lamarr Houston (and Pernell McPhee), so am I being too hard on the group for not putting more pressure on a rookie quarterback?
Finley: Because if they can’t rush the passer, then what are they doing? They’re certainly not stopping the run — the Cowboys carried the ball 41 times for 199 yards. There was an expectation when the season began that the front seven would be the Bears’ biggest strength, a tempo-setter to pace the defense — and the team. Injuries or not, it simply hasn’t been that way this season. Willie Young told us that he could feel the burden of Houston not being in the Sunday rotation; is the problem as simple as that? I sense that it’s not.
Fishbain: Young and some of the other Bears defenders also commented on how quickly Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz got rid of the football, but that can’t be an excuse, can it? All quarterbacks are going to try to throw it early, it’s on the Bears’ defense to get there faster. We know by now that Vic Fangio is not one for blitzing — we’ve seen a couple from the corner position that haven’t been too effective. I think the onus has to fall on Young and Leonard Floyd, but it certainly would be helpful if one of the defensive linemen got pressure from the interior. Akiem Hicks, Mitch Unrein and Jonathan Bullard each have one QB hit and have combined for zero sacks.
Finley: A quarterback gets rid of the ball fast? That’s like a lion saying he would have caught the cheetah if only he’d slow it down to a nice, easy mosey. I was surprised how little Leonard Floyd rushed the passer Sunday, but he’s also their best coverage linebacker, so it appears the Bears were content to play him there. We knew this already, but the Bears’ line sorely missed Goldman, and will continue to. My question for you, Kevin: if the Bears can’t get pressure the old-fashioned way, will Vic Fangio dial up a few blitzes to try to manufacture a little sizzle? Or is that just exposing the weaker part of the defense — the backfield — to further trouble?
Fishbain: Ineffective pass rushes bring out the best lion metaphors! Through the first two games, I would’ve said, ‘Sure, Vic, I know it’s not your style, but dial it up!’ because the corners had been playing well, but did you see how wide open the Cowboys’ receivers were on Sunday night? Still, with an 0-3 record, aren’t we in the, ‘Why not?’ part of the season? I expected to see quite the sense of urgency in Dallas, then didn’t. Maybe we’ll see it at home vs. Detroit and a QB who isn’t mobile and prone to turnovers?
Finley: Noodle this one, Fishbain: Matthew Stafford is the most proven quarterback the Bears have faced thus far. He’s third in the league with 985 passing yards, sixth among starters with a passer rating of 105 and tied for third with seven passing touchdowns. One more thing to ponder, Kevin: you and I are in our fourth season covering the team everyday. We’ve never seen them beat the Lions. Not once. The way this is headed, Kevin, I’m thinking that on Sunday, the Lions will be the, um, lions — and the Bears will be the prey.