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Bears’ ‘D’ vulnerable when pass rush is neutralized

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Dan Parr
Associate editor

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Posted Dec. 27, 2010 @ 5:45 p.m. ET
By Dan Parr

After struggling to stop the opposition from scoring in the first half for the second time in three games, the Bears' defense had a better showing in the second half Sunday and held the Jets to 10 points in the final two quarters as they toppled New York, 38-34. Unlike the game against the Patriots in Week 14, Chicago's offense was able to keep up with the opposition's outburst on offense, and S Chris Harris' interception in the final minute sealed the Bears' 11th win.

The Bears' ability to put consistent pressure on quarterbacks has been the key to the team's success on "D" for much of the season, but the Jets were able to keep QB Mark Sanchez, who was nursing a sore shoulder, out of harm's way. DE Julius Peppers made only one tackle in the game and, after four different Bears players had a sack in the previous game against the Vikings, they didn't register a sack vs. the Jets.

The PFW Spin

Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli called for blitzes several times on Sunday. The Bears ran stunts and games on the defensive line, too, but the Jets held up in pass protection and Sanchez was hurried only a handful of times.

Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer had a good game plan for attacking the Bears through the air and the Jets executed well aside from their two turnovers, which were costly. Sanchez was effective taking three-step drops and beat Chicago over and over again with quick-hitting slant routes that happened fast enough to keep Peppers from getting more than a few steps toward Sanchez before the ball was being released.

There is a blueprint for how to beat the cover-2 "D" and if Peppers and his teammates on the defensive line don't disrupt the quarterback's timing with pressure, Chicago is very susceptible to giving up yards in the passing game. Starting with the Packers' Aaron Rodgers, who threw for 404 yards and four touchdowns against the Giants on Sunday, the Bears probably are going to be matched up against good, if not great, quarterbacks for however long their season lasts.

If those quarterbacks are given plenty of time to throw, there's a good chance the Bears won't be extending their season beyond the minimum two games they are assured to play.

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