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LAKE FOREST — The Washington Commanders have sacked opposing quarterbacks 13 times this season — tied for the fourth-most in the NFL. Four of the five players on the defensive front were former first-round draft picks.
Chase Young, Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Montez Sweat provide a lot of complications for any offense, but especially for this Bears offensive line. Through four games, Justin Fields has been sacked 17 times (third-most in the league), and he has been under pressure on 47.4% of his dropbacks — according to Pro Football Focus.
Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy described the Commanders’ front five as having one of the best fronts “in this league.” Getsy called some bootlegs that moved the pocket against the Broncos and had some success, but the Commanders ability to rush the quarterback will create an extra layer of difficulty.
“It’s a challenge every week,” Getsy said. “When you have a guy like we have (Fields) and everybody is planning for it (bootlegs), and then now you put the level of talent that these guys have, it’s pretty incredible. The two interior guys play the game as good as anybody in this league – being able to diagnose what’s going on, you know, get two hands on an offensive lineman, see what’s happening in the backfield and then react. It’s a challenge, so we have to do a really good job to try to be creative and get every aspect of our game going.”
Getsy mentioned being creative, which was also something similar that Cole Kmet brough up in his Monday press conference when asked about the Commanders’ defense.
“Really good defense coming up,” Kmet said. “Thursday night. Quick rebound here. And ya know a lot of the guys we played last year are still on that team so you can use the tape from last year and look at it. But yeah, we’re going to have to be creative in some regards but also go at them and wear them down up front and you know understand that this defensive front I think is one of the best in the league.”
In the matchup in 2022 against Washington on Thursday Night Football at Soldier Field, the Bears were held to a touchdown in the 12-7 loss. Fields finished 14 of 27 for 190 yards, threw one touchdown pass and an interception, and he was sacked five times.
Getsy will have to devise a game plan that not only caters to Fields’ strengths but at the same time mitigates the pass rush from the Commanders. This will be a tough balance to find.
Two plays from the Broncos game could be a good indication as to how things could go on Thursday night. Getsy described the touchdown to Khalil Herbert and the Fields’ sack-strip fumble as being nearly identical, but obviously both had completely different outcomes.
“Whenever you have what we refer to as a dirty edge, which pretty much every bootleg keeper that we have is a dirty edge, you have to come out high,” Getsy said. “When you see the rusher is high, you got to pull up. He didn’t do that on that particular one (the strip-sack fumble). He did that on the other one and created a touchdown for us. That’s part of the learning experience that you get in games and seeing everyone game plan for you specifically.”
Getsy knows that opposing teams are game planning specifically for the bootlegs, so he needs to cognizant and willing to adjust when the defensive ends blitz off the edge and commit strictly to Fields. It’s on the quarterback to get depth on those bootleg keepers, but Getsy can also help Fields out by not being so predictable and repetitive at times.
The Bears understand they have a tough challenge on Thursday night, but they are ready for whatever Washington brings.
“I mean, yeah, they have a pretty good front four,” Fields said. “Not (only) their D-tackles, of course, you know they’ve got Montez (Sweat) and Chase (Young) and the D-ends, but yeah guys are just gonna have to be great on double teams, sustain blocks for a long time and really just protect. So we know everything kind of starts with the O-line so they know they’re going up against a talented group, but they’re excited because it’s an opportunity for them to go out there and ball out. So I’m excited for those guys as well and, of course, Washington as a whole, they’re a talented defense. So we’re excited as an offense to be able to go out there and showcase what we can do.”
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