The stat sheet from the Bears’ loss to the Lions in Detroit read that Jay Cutler was sacked three times, twice by Ndamukong Suh having his way with rookie right guard Kyle Long.
Mmmm, maybe not exactly.
One of the Suh sacks came when the defensive tackle looped all the way around the Bears’ right side and found Cutler still in possession of the football. The sack was not charged to Long.
The other came when Long in fact put Suh on the ground with a leverage move but Suh landed at Cutler’s feet and picked up the sack.
Since that play, Long has allowed just one sack (at Washington), one hit and five hurries combined over the last four games. The Lions have lost three of the four games in which they have had fewer than two sacks.
“[Long] can do better,” said offensive coordinator/line coach Aaron Kromer. “He had some solid blocks one-on-one with [Suh] but then he had some where his technique was off from the beginning. With each lineman we tell them, ‘You can control what you can control from the start: Your set, your stance, your hands, your eyes.’ Then from there we’ll react and respond from how we work.”
One matchup will clearly not dictate a game outcome and the Bears have a quarterback coming off a groin injury besides a need to run the football. They are 5-0 this season when they run more than 22 times, regardless of yardage, with their losses coming to Detroit (16), New Orleans (18) and Washington (22).
The Lions are allowing an average of 108.5 rushing yards per game. And while Bears fans were aghast at the Green Bay Packers rushing for 199 yards against the Bears, the Packers also rushed for 180 yards on the Lions and a front that starts three No. 1 picks (Suh, Nick Fairley, Ziggy Ansah).
The Bears turned the ball over four times in the loss at Detroit, three times on Cutler interceptions and the fourth on a Cutler fumble, and trailed 30-10 in the second quarter. That precluded some of the running the Bears planned to do.
“As you get down in a game and you continue to throw time after time after time to try to get back in it, which we were, that’s when more sacks’ll happen,” Kromer said. “There’s going to be pressure and you have to speed up the passing game, throw things that are going to get out quickly because they know and everybody in the stadium knows you’re about to throw the ball the 30th time straight.”
What to watch for:
One veteran observer predicted that if the Bears don’t turn the ball over, “Matt Forte will run for 206 yards and the Lions will never see the field.” Hyperbole perhaps but Detroit ranks 28th in rushing average, giving up 4.7 yards per carry.
Besting Ansah, Fairley and Suh in run blocking looms as the single biggest key to Sunday’s game.