Bears may bring blitz to Saints' Brees
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears typically find success rushing just four defenders while playing zone coverage on the back end with the remaining seven players.
But based on a few numbers from ESPN Stats & Information after Saints quarterback Drew Brees' performance in Week 1, the Bears might be considering dialing up some of the pressure packages run out of their Tampa-2 scheme.
It's not that what the Bears do doesn't work, considering they've dominated Brees the last time they've faced him, with the quarterback's passer rating dropping at least eight points in each of the last three meetings dating back to 2006. But perhaps a combination of Smith's bend-but-don't-break Tampa-2 mixed with some blitz packages does the trick Sunday at the Louisiana Superdome.
"They've got some of the same personnel," Brees said, when asked if he's noticed changes in the defense since the last time he faced it in 2008. "But I'd say the thing I noticed a little more [in recent film study] is some of the pressure packages. They've gotten a little more creative with that."
That might be a good thing. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Brees picked apart the Green Bay Packers when they rushed four defenders or fewer, completing 21 of 29 for 293 yards, two touchdowns, a QBR of 97.3 and a passer rating of 139.3.
Those numbers dramatically changed when the Packers brought five or more pass rushers. In those situations, Brees completed 11 of 19 for 126 yards and was sacked three times. The quarterback also produced a QBR of 12.8 and a passer rating of 78 against five pass rushers or more.
Bears nickel corner D.J. Moore seems to be the likely fifth rusher against the Saints. Moore logged a quarterback pressure against Falcons signal caller Matt Ryan, and Smith lauded the cornerback's ability to evade blockers.
"Just looking at D.J. you wouldn't assume he would be a guy they would fear as far as blitzing is concerned," Smith said. "But he does have a knack for slipping a block. He has a good pass rush move, and a counter. A base part of what we do with our nickel package is to bring the nickel from time to time on different rushes. D.J., throughout the time he's played, has found a way to make big plays for us. Hopefully it'll continue."
Further complicating matters for Brees will be the absence of top receiver Marques Colston, who suffered a broken collarbone against the Packers.
"They put up a lot of yards last week against a good Green Bay defense, and we're going to be tested in different ways than we were [against the Falcons]," linebacker Lance Briggs said. "They have two great guards, I mean, just maulers. I'm sure they'll utilize those guys, as well as Drew Brees, who is a savvy vet. He's always dangerous when he's got the ball in his hands."
Briggs pointed to Brees' tendency to exhaust virtually every option before giving up on a play as one of the quarterback's most significant virtues.
"He goes through every read, every progression," Briggs said. "There's no receiver option he won't utilize on any given pass. He'll throw the tight ones. He'll throw to guys when you think they're covered. He'll try to fit it in there. He's somebody you definitely have to prepare for."
From Brees' standpoint, the Bears fall into the same category.
In each of the quarterback's last three contests against the Bears, he posted single-game passer ratings significantly lower than his seasonal rating. The same goes for completion percentage.
"We've faced the Bears three times over the five years we've been here, and that hasn't ended too well for us," Brees said. "We know the type of defense we're facing. We get them at home this time. Still, it doesn't take away from the fact they're a very physical defense that plays their scheme extremely well. They still make their bread and butter with the old Tampa-2 style of defense. They run it so well."
But Brees shouldn't count out the prospects for extra pressure. It's coming.