Are More Sacks Coming?

Lake Forest - The defense has already equaled their sack output from a year ago and there are still five games left on the schedule. There is a good chance that number will go up because of the quarterbacks the Bears will face down the stretch.

While the Bears struggles against Brett Favre have been well documented, he's never faced a Chicago defense like the one he'll play twice in the next four weeks. Favre has only been sacked once every 28.6 pass attempts, but that number is deceiving. Many of his 19 interceptions can be attributed to him trying to throw the ball earlier than he would have wanted because of pressure in the pocket.

Still Green Bay's 14 sacks allowed is tied for the second fewest in the NFL and will present a challenge for the defensive line to keep up their high level of play. The front-four has 12 sacks the past two games with three forced fumbles.

The majority of the production has come from Adewale Ogunleye and Alex Brown, who have combined for nine sacks in wins over Carolina and Tampa Bay.

"Well just look at the last couple weeks. We've had a great game by our defensive ends and look what we've able to do," said head coach Lovie Smith.

With 14 sacks between them, Ogunleye and Brown are the fourth most productive defensive end duo in the NFL. Ogunleye paces the team with 9.0 sacks and is one off the NFC lead. Brown is third on the team with 5.0 sacks. He was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his two-sack, four tipped passes and a forced fumble against Tampa Bay.

Last Sunday, Green Bay had problems keeping Eagles DE Jevon Kearse from disrupting a handful of throws with either pressure in the pocket or throwing his hands up to bat the ball away. Kearse is among the best pass rushers in the league, but doesn't have a compliment like the Bears do with Brown and Ogunleye.

"He's the kind of the guy that's going to throw it to you, he's going to give you some chances," Ogunleye said of Favre. "We've just got to get after him the same way we've been doing these last couple weeks."

The Bears will face Ben Roethlisberger a week later. He's coming off knee surgery and could provide a stationary target. He was sacked three times in his return against the Colts, who also have 35 sacks this season.

In playing three different quarterbacks, Pittsburgh has surrendered 23 sacks or one every 11.4 pass attempts. Much like the Bears, their offense is geared toward the ground game and the pass is used to set up the run. It will be difficult to get to Roethlisberger if the Steelers get out to an early lead. This could be the game where defensive coordinator Ron Rivera decides to use the blitz to apply pressure to the pocket.

Obviously Michael Vick will provide a test of how athletic the defense really is. But he'll be coming to Chicago in mid December and the field conditions could slow him down. Conversely it could do the same to the defense.

The Falcons have the top rushing offense in the league. The three-headed monster of Vick, Warrick Dunn and T.J. Duckett are averaging 183.1 yards per game. The key will be limiting the ground game and force Vick to have to make plays with his arm.

Atlanta has given up 24 sacks or one every 12.3 pass attempts. The interesting part of this stat is the sack per pass attempt between Vick and his backup Matt Schaub is nearly identical. Schaub's is slightly lower than Vick's at 12.35 to 12.25.

The season finale at Minnesota could turn into a sack fest. The Vikings have given up 47 sacks, which is second most in the league. It doesn't matter if it was Daunte Culpepper behind center or now Brad Johnson.

In seven games, Culpepper was sacked once every 7.0 pass attempts before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Since taking over, Johnson has been taken down once every 8.75 attempts. The 37-year-old will be a target the Bears should be able to get after considering their speed on the Metrodome turf.

The Bears have a good chance to reach 50 sacks in a season for the first time since 1986, when the unit totaled 70 sacks. The bulk of the pressure has come from the front four, 24 of the team's 35 sacks have come from the d-line.

"Even when they are double teaming us, one guy is beating them," Ogunleye said. "We know that they're going to game plan us. We've just got to continue to play well."


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