Run Defense Not the Problem

The Bears have invested more than $70 million in their defensive line, but to this point they aren't living up to the bill.

The Bears' defense came into the game vs. Cincinnati with six sacks, but got to Carson Palmer just once, and the extra time allowed the Bengals' quarterback to throw three TD passes without an interception.

"He had time to throw," Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera said. "Some of their play-action bought them good time. We were geared up to stop the run, which we did do a pretty fair job of."

The Bears allowed just 83 yards on 34 carries (2.4-yard average). The week before they allowed just 29 yards on the ground against the Lions, making Detroit's offense one-dimensional.

Although the unit sacked Joey Harrington just twice, there was consistent pressure on him without the threat of the run, which led to five interceptions.

"We would like to have had more pressure, but the play action kind of froze us," Rivera said. "We stopped the run. Unfortunately, the result was they got away with a couple of big pass plays. (Palmer) threw the ball very well."

Palmer's lofty passer rating of 130.3 was his sixth straight game over 100.

Bears defensive end Adewale Ogunleye, who didn't practice until Friday because of a sprained ankle, had the Bears' only sack.

"A lot of it was (Carson Palmer) just throwing it up," Ogunleye said. "Sometimes you've just got to cover somebody. At the same time, I guess, since it's a team effort, we didn't get enough pressure on the quarterback."

After Bengals right tackle Willie Anderson left the game early in the second quarter with a strained back, Ogunleye, who had four tackles, played against Bengals backup guard Scott Kooistra. Anderson's regular backup, Stacy Andrews, was inactive.

"Wale has a couple sacks (on the season)," said head coach Lovie Smith. "Beyond that, we need to get Tommie Harris going, we need to get Alex Brown going and the rest of our defensive line."

Ogunleye received a $33.4 million contract. Harris got a $13.5 million deal. Brown received a five-year extension at $15 million and back-up defensive end Michael Haynes signed a six-year contract worth $10.225 million as a rookie three seasons ago.

Brown has led the team in sacks the last two seasons with modest totals of 5.5 and 6 sacks, but this was supposed to be the season that he hit double-digits. He's been shutout through three games.

Harris finished his rookie season with 3.5 sacks, which was good enough for fourth on the team. Whether he's dinged up with a sore ankle that didn't land him on the injury report or a back problem that did, he has yet to show the signs of dominance he did in the preseason.

The defensive line accounted for 22.5 of the team's 35 sacks last season and will have to pick up the production for the unit to be less reliant on the blitz to get to the quarterback.

"We have to do a better job of getting pressure with our four-man rush," Smith said. "That's something that we have to do. There's no way to get around that."


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