Concerns about the age of Bears Pro Bowlers on defense is rendered moot if they aren’t on the field a lot. Actually, no defense, young or old, is particularly effective if they are forced to be on the field for sustained stretches; obviously, part of the reason that defense are on the field is because it isn’t especially good.
The Bears’ defense is in fact very good. And resilient. After allowing drives of 97, 47, 91 and 80 yards, the defense held the Bengals to three straight possessions of three plays.
But the Bears’ defense allowed just four pass plays longer than 40 yards last season; the Bengals had two (to A.J. Green) in less than two quarters on Sunday. A hallmark of Lovie Smith defense was the avoidance of big plays, new coordinator Mel Tucker is running the same base defense.
The problem with the Minnesota Vikings is that running back Adrian Peterson is both home-run threat (his first run last Sunday vs. Detroit was 78 yards for a touchdown) and tackle-breaker.
The key: “Getting guys to the ball,” said linebacker James Anderson. “You can’t really put your guys in a situation where you have a lot of one-on-one tackles If you watch that guy, he’ll make the first guy miss. He’ll run through tackles. The more guys we can get to the ball, the better chance we’ll have.”
Begin up front — early
The defensive line was limited to one sack vs. Cincinnati, in part because of the short-drop base of the Bengals’ offense. Indeed, only two of Cincinnati’s 10 longest plays in the game came on third downs. Meaning: On first downs (five) and second-and-short’s (three), the defense was unable to attack Andy Dalton with any assurance that the ball would not be gone well before they arrived.
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Christian Ponder threw three interceptions in the Vikings’ loss to the Detroit Lions. Swarming to Peterson early and forcing Ponder to make winning plays looms as the formula method for getting a defense off the field on Sunday.
Former coordinator Rod Marinelli preached, “You have to earn the right to rush the passer,” referring to dominating on first and second downs.
“You can't cover without a rush and we didn't rush the way we're capable of,” coach Marc Trestman said, “and I think we'll do a better job this time around.”