Pressuring Hasselbeck: Can the Bears do it?

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Pressuring Hasselbeck: Can the Bears do it?

Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011
4:45 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Two sequential commandments order the universe of just about every defense, including the Bears. The problem with the second one is that against the Seattle Seahawks, it may be next to impossible.

Commandment one is stop the run. Take away an option as well as yards and force opposing offenses to look at third-and-longish situations.

Then fulfill commandment two: Pressure the quarterback.

Easier said than done against Matt Hasselbeck, a 35-year-old veteran who went unsacked by the Bears in game one between the teams, one of three games. Nine of the 15 opponents Hasselbeck faced this season sacked him only once or not at all. Only four teams sacked him more than twice and the Seahawks went 2-2 in those games as it was.

Their offense is a quick game, said defensive end Julius Peppers. They rely on a lot of turn-in routes, quick stuff so weve got to do the best we can as far as getting to the quarterback. And if we cant get there, weve got to get our hands up in the lanes, bat passes down, that sort of thing.

Youre not going to get to him a lot but youre going to have places where they take chances deep, max-protect and play-action, and those are where you have the opportunities.

The Bears allowed third-down conversions at a rate of 35 percent, including 7 of the 18 opportunities by the Seahawks. Significantly, Hasselbeck and the Seahawks were 0-for-7 in third downs of 10 yards or longer but 6-for-9 when the situation was third-and-6 or shorter.

But...

Defensive linemen have characterized pass rush against a good West Coast quarterback as often little more than two steps and get your hands up.

When you go in against someone like Hasselbeck, you just play fundamentals, said defensive end Israel Idonije. You do have to stop the run first and then you make that team one-dimensional. That allows you to take over the game.

They do use a lot of short, quick stuff and youve got to have a plan as a defense to counteract that.

You have to force them into situations where they have to hold the ball longer and take shots down the field.

Hasselbeck comes with the lowest passer rating (73.2) of the eight quarterbacks still in the playoffs. Jay Cutler, at 86.3, ranks sixth among the eight, ahead of only Hasselbeck and New Yorks Mark Sanchez.

Curiously, though, Hasselbeck has a higher rating on third downs (76.9) than his overall (73.2). Cutler (75.1) is less efficient on third downs.

The Seahawks rank just 22nd in third-down conversions (the Bears rank 27th) while the Bears defense stands sixth in third-down efficiency allowing 33 percent conversions.

But Hasselbeck has been around playoffs since his early career days in Green Bay when Brett Favre was holding clinics. And he took the Seahawks to the playoffs every year from 2003-07, including the Super Bowl in 2005.

Hes a veteran, knows where to go with the football, does a lot of pump fakes to get you off your landmarks, and knows where to go with the football after that, said linebacker Brian Urlacher. "He doesnt make a lot of mistakes. Theyre protecting him well right now. I think the running game is helping. Anytime youve got a running game, its going help your quarterback. Theyre doing a good job right now.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Utah OT Garett Bolles

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Utah OT Garett Bolles

As part of our coverage leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft we will provide profiles of more than 100 prospects, including a scouting report and video interviews with each player.

Garett Bolles, OT, Utah

6'5" | 297 lbs.

Projection:

First-to-second round

Scouting Report:

"Because he's only played one year of FBS football and hasn't been able to fully fill out his frame over the last five years, Bolles will require a projection and conjecture than most of the tackles in this year's draft. He clearly has elite athletic ability and foot quickness, but his lack of core strength and ability to sustain blocks against power across from him is a concern at this time. While he has Pro Bowl potential for a zone-scheme team, his floor will be a little lower than you might like in an early round pick." - Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

Video analysis provided by Rotoworld and NBC Sports NFL Draft expert Josh Norris.

Click here for more NFL Draft Profiles

Why the Bears finally feel like they're in striking distance of a winning team

Why the Bears finally feel like they're in striking distance of a winning team

PHOENIX – Where the relationship between Bears GM Ryan Pace and coach John Fox goes beyond 2017 remains to play out with their third season together. At this point, however, despite a combined total of nine wins over their first two, the critical bond between coach and general manager appears both clear and solid.
 
Which is no small state of affairs with the growing pressure on both and the organization, pressure that will only intensify if the on-field fortunes of their team does not begin to dramatically reverse. And both know it. Losing doesn't build character, it reveals it, and the same applies to a relationship; if there are cracks, adversity of the kind the Bears have endured the past 32 games will widen and expose them.
 
That relationship has been the subject of speculation virtually since its inception, when Pace hired Fox following the end of his tenure with the Denver Broncos. Much of it centered around who was in fact making the final decisions on personnel and who was the advisor, with some positing that Fox was in fact the final authority if only because age, seniority and experience. The primacy of Pace, however, has become clearer with each decision and traces or shadings of any fractiousness are conspicuously absent.
 
"His people skills are tremendous," Fox said Tuesday during the NFL owners meetings. "His evaluation skills are very good. I think humility is always a great quality in this business. And I've seen that. He's the same guy. He hasn't changed. Sometimes people get [elevated] positions, whatever position that may be and they change. It's just how some people react. And I haven't seen that."
 
Pace, who recently turned 40, is by his own description wanting buy-in on decisions. In the cases of free agency, which have involved the high-dollar commitments designed to have immediate payoff, he has identified pro targets and involved Fox in the decisions.
 
Looking for an immediate hit at linebacker to upgrade the entire defense about this time last year, Pace targeted Denver leading-tackler Danny Trevathan. Fox was his first consult.
 
"Just having drafted [Trevathan] and seeing him develop and get better and his work ethic and his preparation and study habits and how he is as a teammate in the locker room," Pace said of what insight Fox provided. "Those were all things that were taken into consideration."
 
This year, with the max need of improvement, the franchise-grade decision was to make a change at quarterback. Jay Cutler effectively made the decision on himself and he was out. Whether Mike Glennon is or is not an upgrade will play out this year, but Fox was involved in and endorsed the decision to go in a decidedly less-experienced direction.

[RELATED - No signs Bears are locked into drafting a QB in 2017]
 
Pace had attempted in the past to trade for Glennon, which Fox agreed with. Fox had familiarity with Glennon from his time coaching in Carolina.
 
"I was in North Carolina when [Glennon] was playing [at N.C. State], actually," Fox recalled. "I was exposed to two guys there. A good friend of mine was the head coach at NC State. Both Russell Wilson and Mike Glennon were coming through at that period in time, so I got exposed to them, watching games and kinda following them.
 
"And obviously evaluating both of them coming out, they were in different schools then. So I had a high opinion of them then. And then really [Glennon] was talked about a little bit before this year as a potential guy to get, and then this year, being free and without any kind of compensation, we dove in pretty good and feel good about it."
 
Most expectations are that the Bears will not repeat a three-win season, and that an improvement from the first two years keeps both Pace and Fox in their jobs. Key players (Trevathan, Eddie Goldman, Kyle Long, Kevin White) returning from injuries, free-agency upgrades on both sides of the ball and a draft class currently with two picks in the first 36 point to perhaps the kind of turnaround Fox has produced (in years two) at Carolina and Denver.
 
Fox did not dwell on what the roster was or wasn't when he arrived, or on how much of an overhaul Pace needed to do when he took over from Phil Emery and brought in Fox to replace Marc Trestman. But the reality was there.
 
"Going back to a lot of the changes, we've had a lot of change," Fox said. "I think we're better for it. Unfortunately, you can't walk around with your chest out about that because of our record the last two years. But I have total confidence and [Pace] has done an outstanding job and will continue to.
 
"I understand you have to win. And I finally feel like we're in striking distance."