Four downs: Bears bring the blitz
By Brad Biggs, Chicago Tribune reporter
4:10 p.m. CDT, October 6, 2012
1. While the Bears blitzed more against the Cowboys than they had been, what has made the defense so stout to this point is quarterbacks are facing blitz timing when only four down linemen are rushing. Opposing quarterbacks are rushing to make plays like they would in the face of a blitz but the Bears have seven in coverage the majority of the time, making those holes a lot more difficult to find. Rushed decisions create opportunities for defensive backs to make plays, and they have been doing just that. It could create the perfect storm against Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who plays timidly.
2. It seemed like a natural game for Brandon Marshall, but seven receptions for 138 yards in the victory at Dallas represented the third-biggest game for a wide receiver in nine seasons under Lovie Smith. Interestingly, Jay Cutler had to tell Marshall to relax and let the game come to him. Marshall was "chippy" early in the game, according to the quarterback. That's because he constantly wants the ball, and Cutler should keep throwing it to him. No one on the roster matches Marshall's playmaking skills, and Marshall should realize no one knows that better than Cutler.
3. A year after rushing for 2,000 yards, the Bears have yet to find their groove on the ground. Matt Forte hasn't been fully healthy. The offensive line has been revamped. Don't forget all of the new passing toys that arrived too. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice made a concerted effort in training camp to make sure the passing game was installed and operating efficiently. An inordinate amount of time was spent throwing the football in Bourbonnais. That meant less attention to the ground attack, but that should change this week against the Jaguars, who enter 30th in the NFL against the run.
4. Lovie Smith has a fine record on "Monday Night Football" — 8-2 after the victory against the Cowboys. His teams have been just as impressive on a short week after the prime-time appearance with a 7-2 record. But this is the first time Smith has been challenged with a road Monday game followed by a road matchup on Sunday, the toughest spot to be in during a short week. But a veteran roster should make the Bears less likely to fall into a trap in which they have a classic letdown against a less talented roster. With a win, players know a reward likely awaits during the off week.