The Seattle Seahawks know how to run the football. The Super Bowl champions have a fantastic running attack finishing in the top five in the NFL in each of the last two seasons. They are one of the few teams that still use the running game to propel their offense and last year it launched them all the way to the Lombardi Trophy.
In 2013, the Chicago Bears run defense was historically bad. They allowed 5.3 yards per rush, the worst in over 50 years in the NFL. They allowed 11 100-yard rushers, they allowed over 2500 yards rushing and they allowed the most running plays of over 10 yards or more- all worst in the league.
Repairing the defense, especially up front, was one of GM Phil Emery’s focuses in the offseason. They revamped the defensive line signing free agents Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston and they have Jeremiah Ratliff for 16 games after signing him late in the season in 2013.
The linebacking core is still a question, but Chicago is hoping for a healthy DJ Williams and continued development from athletic specimens Jonathan Bostic and Shea McClellin to go along with their defensive anchor, Lance Briggs.
So far, the Bears’ front seven has looked much improved. In six first quarter rushing attempts in Week 1 (although three were called back due to penalties), the Philadelphia Eagles gained only 14 yards. In Week 2 despite a horrible performance defending the pass, the rushing defense was solid again, limiting the Jacksonville Jaguars top two backs, Toby Gerhart and Jordan Todman to 37 yards on 14 carries, 18 of which came on one run from Gerhart.
The Seahawks present the Bears first significant challenge of the preseason. Seattle is coming off a game where they rushed for 243 yards and five touchdowns against the San Diego Chargers last week, and that was with only a cameo appearance from Marshawn Lynch. With preseason Game 3 coming up, both Seattle and Chicago will use their first teams a significant portion of the game, giving us some insight as to whether this revamped Chicago defensive front can handle the likes of Lynch, Russell Wilson, Robert Turbin and Christine Michael.
If Seattle has their way and runs the ball effectively with little resistance from the Bears, it could be a sign that we are in for another long season from the Bears defense. However, if Chicago’s run defense looks solid against the Seahawks outstanding rushing attack; that will mean good things for the defense in 2014.