Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
We give our three keys for the Bears' defense to succeed against the Jaguars.
1) Maurice Jones-Drew
This is the first time the Bears and Jags have met since the NFC Championship Game (and if you need me to tell you what happened, go do some web searching). Either way, at that time, Maurice Jones-Drew said some things that might have been construed as questioning Jay Cutler's toughness (also a storyline you should expect to hear infinity times 486484531324 times tomorrow).
Now, I'm not going to sit here and say the Bears should force Jones-Drew to show how tough he is by breaking his leg or something, that'd just be classless. But, Jones-Drew is the lone consistent offensive threat on the Jaguars, and the Bears haven't exactly faced a ton of rushing attempts, even though historically they've been an outstanding rush defense. He'll get hit a lot, and bottling up the run will put all the brakes - parking brake, emergency brake, et cetera - on this offense.
2) Get Ahead, Force the Pass
The Jaguars have a 4.6 Net Yards Per Pass Attempt. It's basically yards-per-attempt, but it also accounts for sacks, so you add in sack yardage as well as sacks taken (included in pass attempts). What it shows is that by this measure, the Jaguars have the worst passing offense in the league. They have the fourth-lowest number of pass attempts and the second worst total passing yards. Some of that is Blaine Gabbert and his love of the checkdown and short ball (Greg Jones, a fullback, has eight catches for 50 yards) but some of that is the low completion percentage and the twelve sacks taken. If the Bears can force Gabbert to have to make a long pass play, I like their chances.
3) Limit YAC
Speaking of bad passing offenses and an offensive gameplan that relies on the run, how about that Jaguars offensive line? By which I mean it's just as offensive, and actually I'd say worse, than the Bears' own line. Gabbert throws a lot of checkdowns, and the linebackers and defensive backs will have to be ready to tackle when he does. Justin Blackmon hasn't caught a pass longer than 14 yards this year. Cecil Shorts had an 80 yard pass two weeks ago against Indianapolis and a 39-yarder against Minnesota, but the rest of his passes have all been short-targets reliant on YAC, much like the rest of the team. And the 80 yarder was a YAC run, as well. Allow the catch if you have to, but keep the receivers from gaining anything else.