The Chicago Bears have lost the last two games, and both performances showed the same major two problems: offensive consistency and pass rush. Those two factors alone have been their demise the past couple weeks, after starting the year 3-0.
What I mean by offensive consistency is that they’ve had glimpses where the playcalling is brilliant, the offensive line knows their assignments and nobody really makes a dumb mistake that costs them not only momentum in the game, but points.
In each of the past two games, the offense has put together three or four extremely efficient and darn-near flawless drives. However, besides those few series, they’ve seemed to hit mental walls. Whether it’s a drop on first down that would have given them an easy second-and-short, a run play that goes absolutely nowhere, a missed blitzer who gets the sack or just a bad decision by Jay Cutler – of course, one could easily make the argument he cost them the first game, however, he was excellent in the second — on a throw, they’ve killed drives too quickly.
A good offense doesn’t have to score every possession, but you have to be able to at least move the chains a time or two to give your defense time to rest. And really, that leads very well into my next point, which is the pass rush.
Now, being that the defense has been on the field for much of the last two games, it might be a legitimate reason as to why they’ve struggled putting pressure on the quarterback. But even early in games, they can’t seem to beat their men, even one-on-one. Obviously, going against a good QB in Matthew Stafford and a great one in Drew Brees, they’re going to have some amount of success, even against a good defense, but with no pass rush, they can obliterate anyone.
In the game against the Detroit Lions, it wasn’t so much Stafford destroying them as it was the run game with Reggie Bush, but the RB’s production came from inordinate amount of draw plays. Because the Bears weren’t able to get a pass rush early on, it was clear they were trying too hard to pressure Stafford, which opened up huge holes in the line when they ran it. Most of Bush’s best runs came on plays where he wouldn’t get touched until he was eight-to-10 yards downfield.
Facing the New Orleans Saints, the Bears only got pressure on Brees a handful of instances, and he dropped back to throw 35 times, completing 29 of them. The lack of QB hurries and hits are what made the Saints’ offense so efficient. And with Henry Melton and now Nate Collins both done for the season with torn up knees, things aren’t looking any better moving forward.
Julius Peppers has looked unimpressive this year minus two plays: a sack-fumble and lucky fumble recovery that he ran back for a touchdown. Other than that, he’s been almost nonexistent. Is he playing hurt? Is age catching up to him? I don’t know, but it appears he’s lost a step in some way or another.
At the other DE spot, Corey Wootton hasn’t done much of anything; and the third man in the rotation, 2012 first-round pick Shea McClellin, has only one sack on the season, and otherwise hasn’t been too noticeable, either. Perhaps it’s time the Bears give rookies Cornelius Washington and David Baas some more looks. Baas, himself, put a couple pressures on the Brees in yesterday’s game and looked pretty decent.
As for their DT issue, they may need to sign someone out of free agency because Stephen Paea, Landon Cohen and Zach Minter aren’t exactly pass-rushing fiends. Really, only one of them is starting material in general, and that has to be a factor, as well.
So, how can the Bears fix their main two problems?
Offensively, head coach Marc Trestman needs to call more aggressively and creatively to open games. He needs to make sure the offense has a higher sense of urgency on every drive, not just the ones where they have to score.
Defensively, it’s time to give the young guys at DE some chances. Maybe one of them can separate themselves from Wootton or McClellin, who have been underwhelming in five games. At DT, they need to look for someone on the street. There are some veterans and would be wise to work a few out. Also, sending some more exotic blitzes might help a bit, too. Pretty much the only time they’ve gotten pressure this year is when they’ve blitzed, so that needs to be more frequent.
If they take this advice and make those adjustments, they’ll be back to their winning ways. If not, well, I don’t know whose job will be safe at the end of this year…
Brian Neal is an NFL and NBA contributor to RantSports.com and senior mass communications major at Lewis University. Follow him on Twitter @brianneal23, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google+.