Heat on DLine to Improve Pass Rush........
Heat on Bears' D-line to improve
Pass rush not up to Smith's, Marinelli's standards
By Vaughn McClure, Chicago Tribune reporter 7:35 p.m. CST, November 24, 2011
The film didn't lie.
Bears coach Lovie Smith and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli were equally disturbed about the defensive line's performance Sunday in a victory over the Chargers. Not only did the Bears fail to record a sack, they had just one hit on Philip Rivers, not regarded as the most mobile of quarterbacks.
To make matters worse, the front four was up against a Chargers offensive line down three starters.
"That wasn't up to the standard we wanted," Marinelli said. "We drifted behind the quarterback a few times, something you can't do. Our inside moves weren't crisp. In terms of pass rush, it just wasn't good last week."
Smith called out defensive tackle Henry Melton and nose tackle Anthony Adams a few weeks back, encouraging them to step up their games. Both players responded with inspired efforts the next time out.
Nobody escaped Smith's wrath this week.
"We've got to get more from everybody, simple as that," Smith said. "And we've been in their ears, believe me, constantly insisting — not asking — insisting on (the pass rush) getting better."
The Bears enter Sunday's game in Oakland with 18 sacks, one fewer than they had through 10 games last season. They stood second-to-last in the league in sacks per pass play before Thursday's games.
And this is the same defense that sacked Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan five times in the season opener, save for Julius Peppers and Matt Toeaina battling knee sprains.
"We've got to get better," Melton said.
Sunday would be a good time to start, although the Raiders have relied heavily on the legs of running back Michael Bush recently. They're ninth in the league in sacks allowed, thanks in large part to the success of the running game.
Quarterback Carson Palmer, however, was sacked four times Sunday in a victory over the Vikings, though he also completed 17 of 23 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown.
Peppers leads the Bears with six sacks and can be a disruptive force even without getting to the quarterback, but he needs help. Israel Idonije got some good pressure in spots last week but didn't have the numbers to prove it.
"Every week it's a challenge," Idonije said. "We did some things (last week) that if we could do again, we'd probably take back. But there were times where we got close, where I got close. I'm reaching, reaching and the ball is out.
"A lot of that stuff is on us. We've got to execute a little bit better on our game plan."
The plan might involve more blitzing, an aspect largely missing from the defense's arsenal in recent games. Nickel back D.J. Moore is a big part of the blitz package, but a sprained left ankle might keep Moore sidelined for a second consecutive game.
"We didn't blitz much last week, and that could help," Marinelli said. "There are little things we will have to improve, and we will. The pass rush, it just hasn't been consistent. You just keep working at it."