In a time of general defensive slumping, an absent pass rush and a secondary struggling to prevent big plays, Bears linebackers have been arguably the best position group on that side of the ball. The need Thursday night, however, is for something special on a national stage for a must-win game.
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The New York Giants are down to Brandon Jacobs at running back, beyond formidable at one point, but a sign of the Giants’ troubles in his ninth NFL season. The Giants have no run longer than 18 yards this year and that by running back David Wilson, who is already ruled out of this game.
Run fills by the linebackers are critical to the schemes of coordinator Mel Tucker and the Bears were able to hold New Orleans to an average of 2.4 yards per carry last Sunday. The keys were James Anderson, Lance Briggs and D.J. Williams combining for 33 tackles on the Saints’ 65 total plays. Briggs was credited with 14 tackles, two for losses, plus a sack and quarterback hit. Anderson added 11 stops, one for loss.
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“We got a group of guys in there that are getting more practices and more games under their belts together in terms of fitting the run, knowing where they are supposed to be,” Tucker said. “So they can play fast, they can trust the defense, they can trust each other and that's a big part of stopping the run.”
Briggs and Williams with two each also have accounted for four of the Bears’ eight sacks, by Bears records.
Most important against a Giants team that has been unable to hold onto the football, Briggs has forced two fumbles and Williams one, and Anderson recovered one.
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“I think when you look at the turnover ratio and how the wins are related to the turnovers, I think a lot of teams are taking a lot more notice of that and applying it to their defenses,” Briggs said. “Plus, we're not the only ones that have coached in this defense. There's guys around the league that have coached in this defense and are preaching the same things now.
“But I do think from the time that Lovie has been here (had been) or he started preaching turnovers, it became or started to become big news.”