All things considered, it is probably easier to just go ahead and sack Drew Brees than rely on intercepting one or more of the New Orleans quarterback’s passes.
Brees has thrown for a staggering NFL-best 1,434 yards through four games, making him a virtual lock to push to eight his string of 4,000-yard passing seasons. He has thrown 10 touchdown passes vs. four interceptions, a respectable INT percentage of 2.4 (Jay Cutler’s is 4.1; Eli Manning’s is 6.0; Peyton Manning’s is 0.0). That translates to once every 44.5 pass plays.
“It’s incredible,” said defensive end Corey Wootton. “We have to get into his face and disrupt him.”
Indications are the first part of that is potentially do-able; the second part, maybe not quite so much.
[MORE: Bears keep shuffling DL with Paea questionable]
In any case, despite a proven history of quick-release style under coach Sean Payton and his staff, Brees in 2013 has been sacked 12 times, a rate of once every 14.8 pass plays. The past two seasons that rate has been about once every 27.5 pass plays.
Maybe Brees just misses his left tackle, who now plays that position for the Bears.
The task for the Bears is how to get into the proximity of Brees’ face and then finish, something that has been a missing part of the pass rush this season.
The Saints are 65:35 pass in their offense and rank among the league’s lowest in yards per carry (3.4 ypc, 27th), pointing toward less need for defensive tackles.
“I think we’ve done some things structurally to force and integrate some problems on the New Orleans side of the football,” said coach Marc Trestman. “We’ll see what happens.”
One scenario is expected to be extensive use of defensive lines that involve three or even four defensive ends. Shea McClellin also offers the speed and ability to help with underneath coverage on tight end Jimmy Graham, so McClellin becomes a must-watch vs. the Saints.
Wootton spent a portion of the Detroit game inside at the three-technique, particularly after Stephen Paea was hobbled by a turf toe that has him questionable at best for Sunday after not practicing all week. Look for Nate Collins to return to the three-technique but also go to nose when the Bears go with three ends up front, including rookies David Bass and Cornelius Washington.
“We’ve been working all our guys in there,” Trestman said. “We’ve got our new guys in there; Landon’s been working in there, Nate’s been working in there, Corey works inside, Bass has been working as well.”