It's a new week but for the Chicago Bears' defense, the story remains the same. As has been the case in nearly every game this season, Chicago on Sunday will square off against one of the league's best running backs: Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks.
The Bears this season have already faced Chris Johnson, Steven Jackson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Arian Foster, Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson. So while Lynch is one of the best backs in the league, he's just par for the course for Chicago's defense.
"Being tested is the only way you really know how good you are," linebacker Lance Briggs said today. "So it's just another opportunity to test our run defense, and see what we can do."
Lynch is a major test. His 1,051 yards are third best in the league. He wears down opposing defenses with his power running style, then uses his speed to capitalize on tired defenses in the fourth quarter.
RB Marshawn Lynch
Joe Nicholson/US Presswire
"He's a hard running back to tackle," said Brian Urlacher. "He likes to get downhill, makes guys miss, [has] great speed. That's another big challenge for us."
The Seahawks like to establish Lynch early, then use play action later in the game to stretch defenses deep. So limiting Lynch to start the game will be the top priority for the Bears.
"The best tape to prepare for this game is understanding what their offensive line is trying to do and how they're trying to attack us," Lance Briggs said. "We've got to get ourselves in position to take Marshawn Lynch down. He's running really well this year."
Yet even though Lynch is one of the most talented running backs in the league, the Bears have had success against him in the past. Last year, Chicago held Lynch to just 42 yards on 20 carries. The year before: 44 yards on 17 carries. In three career games against Chicago, Lynch is averaging just 1.65 yards per rush.
So for Chicago's defense, the goal is to say the course, shutting down Lynch early and forcing the Seahawks, and their rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, to beat them through the air.
"[Wilson] is a smart guy, he's producing, they're getting some wins, but at the end of the day he's still a rookie," said Briggs. "He's still a rookie, and you get pressure on him, keep him in the pocket and force him to beat us."
Wilson's job will be much easier against a Chicago secondary that leads the league in interceptions (20) if the Seahawks can establish Lynch on the ground.
"I think it's important for us, No. 1 to stop the run, that's what they do best," said Briggs. "And No. 2, get pressure on the quarterback, keep him in the pocket, get lots of pressure, force those balls to come out early. We have a great defensive backfield, and if those balls are anywhere near where our defensive backs are, they're going to make them pay."
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.