Bears-Rams QB Viewer's Guide: Ball security the key

Bears-Rams QB Viewer's Guide: Ball security the key
November 22, 2013, 10:00 am
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The key for the Bears winning with Josh McCown (and Jay Cutler before him) has been the absence of turnovers. He has thrown zero interceptions in 101 pass attempts and the Bears have a positive or even turnover ratio in all four games in which McCown has appeared.

Indeed, Bears quarterbacks have thrown just two interceptions (one each vs. Washington and Detroit) in the last six games, a span of two picks in their last 243 attempts going back to the third quarter of the first Detroit game.

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“You see it before we warm up,” said coach Marc Trestman. “The first thing we do is ball security. The quarterbacks are really truly the only defenseless player on the field in some ways…. They not only have to protect themselves but protect the ball and that's a constant day-to-day project to get that done.”

There is as second part of the Bears’ success equation that will determine Sunday’s outcome.

When the Trestman coaching staff took over this year, the No. 1 stated goal for the offense was getting the ball out of the quarterback’s hands sooner. It was said in reference to Cutler and was happening, and it has continued — and arguably even improved — with McCown.

The Bears are No. 3 in the NFL in sacks-per-pass-attempt, which is a tribute to the offensive line but also to the ball being gone before rushers can arrive at Cutler and now McCown.

The St. Louis Rams are No. 1 in sack rate, behind the edge rushing of Chris Long and Robert Quinn. This follows the offense keeping Baltimore’s Top 5 sack attack at bay, with two sacks of McCown but for just one yard.

[MORE: Bennett says McCown is combination of 'Jesus and 'Ben Stiller']

The chief burden of protecting McCown obviously falls on the front five. But McCown also was only hit three times, and McCown’s expressly stated concern for not taking sacks has resulted in avoiding crises in the pocket.

“He’s done a nice job even on bad plays, scrambling, getting up in the pocket and making a play out of nothing,” said offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. “It appears it’s been easy for him and I hope it continues to look easy for him.”

What to look for: The Bears have scored at least one passing touchdown in every game this season and at least two in seven games. Last season they managed two passing TDs in a total of six games. The offense will need to run the ball to blunt the Long-Quinn express, and then, it falls to McCown to find which of his big receivers is against single coverage and break the Rams down.