Against the Seattle Seahawks in last Friday’s preseason loss, the Chicago Bears defense did a good job of pressuring the quarterback. According to Pro Football Focus, the Bears pressured Russell Wilson 12 times in the first half alone. If you can bring 24 QB pressures every game, things are typically going to go your way.
The problem on Friday was that only one of those pressures resulted in a sack. During the other 11 hurries, Wilson was able to elude defenders and extend plays with his legs, which included a seven-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Routinely, Wilson was able to slip through the grasp of Chicago’s defenders and find receivers down the field. It was the main reason the Bears’ first-team was pummeled 31-0 in the first half.
“We knew going into the game we were going to have to contain the quarterback. That was a big part of stopping that offense and we didn’t do that,” coordinator Mel Tucker said today. “That’s the one thing that was a huge point of emphasis going in and we have to really make some definite corrections in that area in terms of containing the quarterback.”
Through the first five games of the regular season, the Bears will face four “mobile” quarterbacks: E.J. Manuel, Geno Smith, Colin Kaepernick and Cam Newton. If those four signal callers have the type of success Wilson had against Chicago’s pass rush, it’s going to be nearly impossible to stop any of those offenses.
For that reason, Tucker and the defensive coaching staff this week are emphasizing technique and staying fundamentally sound.
“It’s attention to detail,” Tucker said. “A lot of times pocket contain is a decision you have to make on the move in the game. [We haven’t had] level rush on the outside and at times some rush-lane issues inside. We talk about rush and coverage working together. We work really, really hard on underneath coverage. We thought, early in the down, our underneath coverage was pretty good and forced the quarterback to hold the ball. We were able to get pressure on the quarterback but at times we didn’t have contain.”
Contain isn’t just about the front seven, as the secondary must also be sound when plays break down. If they can cover their man for an extra second or two, that could give the pass rush time to close in on the quarterback.
“If the quarterback does break the pocket and it becomes a scramble situation, we need to plaster,” said Tucker. “We call it ‘plaster’ in our zone or man. You just have to cover longer. When the quarterback gets out of the pocket, bad things happen typically. Again, it’s a rush and coverage combination but that’s what we have to do on the back end.”
The good news is that Friday’s 34-6 defeat was just a preseason game and there is still time to correct the contain issues. With so many new faces along the defensive line, the film of Russell carving them up should pay dividends going forward.
“It’s been great to get that type of exposure in the preseason,” Tucker said. “Our preseason opponents have been outstanding. The different type of offenses we’ve seen, the different types of schemes, run-game wise and pass game, and mobile quarterbacks. We’re going to see several mobile quarterbacks early in the season.
“We talk about pocket-contain and coordinated pass rush every day. There’s not a situation where we don’t work to do that, regardless of the quarterback. Some quarterbacks are more difficult to contain than others but at the end of the day our job is the same.”
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.