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LAKE FOREST — The Chicago Bears’ defense has only one sack this season, a number that ranks them dead last in the NFL.
In Sunday’s 41-10 blowout loss to the Chiefs, Matt Eberflus decided the best game plan against Patrick Mahomes was to only send the blitz on 8.3 percent of his dropbacks. The Chiefs’ quarterback threw for 272 yards on 24 of 33 passes, three touchdowns and finished with a 77.1 QBR rating.
Clearly rushing with only four, which is Eberflus’ preference, is not working. For this defense to apply consistent pressure, Eberflus needs to be more willing to bring extra defenders.
“You know, it’s something we got to do better,” Eberflus said on Wednesday. “We got to do it better. We’re going to continue to do that. We’re going to continue sending four guys and playing some coverage. We obviously got to send five sometime, send six. But again, we just got to do a good job. We’ve gotten home some and we’ve missed some sacks in the pocket. We have to do a better job with that, making sure we do a good job of getting the guys down when we do have pressure. But again, that number has got to improve for sure.”
However, if the Bears stick to rushing just four to apply pressure, there is no telling if there will be improvement anytime soon.
“You’re always looking to change and move how you look on defense, in terms of beating their protections,” Eberflus said. “I think you need to do that first. Also, the guys’ one-on-ones, it’s four equals one. If it’s going to be a game you’re running, they got to run the game with violence, they got to run it correctly. If it’s just guys just rushing, they got to play off each other. They got to cover. If it’s a right cover or a left cover or a cover inside, we got to do that with precision.”
Eberflus has a valid point when he says, “If it’s just guys just rushing, they got to play off each other.” Right now, there appear to be a lot of guys on the defensive line rushing as strictly individuals and not the “four equals one” that Eberflus is looking for out of the group.
Rookie defensive lineman Zacch Pickens echoed what his head coach said.
“If we make each other right, our results to the quarterback will be higher,” Pickens said. “I think what is holding us back we all kinda doing our own thing right now, and we’re trying to work together especially in practice, knowing what he’s doing or what I’m going to do and trying to help each other out so we know what we doing.”
It makes sense that the defensive linemen working together could help out the pass rush, but the Bears had their most pressure this season when they amped up their blitz packages. Against the Buccaneers, Eberflus called seven blitzes, and the defense generated 21 quarterback hurries on Baker Mayfield.
Against the Packers, the Bears blitzed five times and created only four pressures. In Week 3 against the Chiefs, Eberflus called only three blitzes against Mahomes and the defense ended the game with 11 hurries. Blaine Gabbert also played in the game.
Despite the lack of pass rush through the first three games, Yannick Ngakoue — who has the only sack on the season — remains optimistic the group can turn things around.
“They come in bunches,” Ngakoue said. “Hopefully this week we can put everything together and be able to change that.”
Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson has been sacked 10 times this season — which is the ninth most in the league. Still, with the way the Bears have been playing, it will still be a tough task for the defensive line to generate pressure if they just rush four.
Both teams will be looking for their first win in Week 4, so the pressure is on. The Bears would be wise to bring some of their own to Soldier Field on Sunday.
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