Maybe the Bears’ 2013 pass rush is just the weather: Everybody talks about it but can’t really do much about it.
Coach Marc Trestman and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker are due for a week without the now-routine questions about how a pass rush that is on track to be arguably one of the two worst in franchise history.
The Bears have the dubious distinction of currently having more interceptions (nine) than sacks (eight).
With eight sacks through six games — for comparison purposes, the Bears had nine sacks in their 1984 game against the Los Angeles Raiders — the Bears are on pace to net 21 for the season, which would rank ahead of only the 18 recorded in 2003. The latter contributed to a 7-9 year that cost Dick Jauron his job.
Trestman is in no danger of sharing Jauron’s fate but he also is no closer to solving the problem than Lovie Smith’s predecessor was.
“I just think we’ve got to get more continuity in our rushes,” Trestman offered on Monday. “We’re tying to find ways to improve our techniques and fundamentals and coordinate different ways of getting to the quarterback.
“The energy’s there. We got a lot closer last week than we did the two previous weeks. We were around him but not enough. We’ve just got to continue working it.”
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It might be better if the energy in fact was not there, because then the problem would be one of motivation rather than “techniques and fundamentals,” which the Bears have spent the last six months working on.
The growing question after another pressure-lite performance (one sack of New York’s Eli Manning) is whether the Bears are even good enough to get better. Tucker did not radically alter the defensive scheme, so the “excuse” allowed for the offense doesn’t work for the defense.
The problem is far more than just Julius Peppers, whose money accentuates his production void. The sad fact is that Peppers is tied for tops among defensive linemen in sacks: one.
It isn’t Henry Melton or Nate Collins, both gone to IR with knee injuries. It is that the players in place have not gotten better and have in fact declined.
Corey Wootton had 1.5 sacks through two games last season; he has one through six. Shea McClellin had 1.5 in the week-two Green Bay game; he has a half-sack through six in ’13. Stephen Paea had half-sacks in two of the first six last season; this year, missing two games, he has just one-half sack.
Trestman predictably stands by his talent pool; there isn’t a lot of choice.
“I believe the talent is there and we’ve just got to keep working on it,” Trestman said. “Quarterbacks are throwing the ball a lot earlier than ever before and it’s hard to get to them. We’ve gotten close, we’ve re-directed passes, we’ve inhibited throws and got Eli to hold a little bit in the pocket, disrupted his rhythm. We’ve got to continue to work at it but I certainly believe the talent is there.”