Facing a rookie quarterback is both good and bad. The good thing is - obviously - that rookies don't have the experience in dealing with NFL defenders and defenses, and even the highly touted ones are going to be a little skittish against the big boys early on. The bad is that since they're rookies, defenses are going to be surprised by some of the things they can do, and coaches may have some difficulty early on with executing an effective gameplan. If the Colts are going to be in this game, they can't get down by too many points early on, and that means solid play from Andrew Luck. So how should the Bears defend the Colts' passing game early on - focus on front four pressure or mix-in some blitzes to try and rattle the rookie?
Steve Ronkowski discussed the Colts' preseason game against the Redskins earlier, and mentioned the not-quite fleet of foot Andrew Luck having difficulty escaping pressure. While he isn't as slow as Peyton Manning, he does have Manning's ability to quick step away from pass rushers while staying within the pocket. If Luck, like most slower quarterbacks, has to break containment, he'll be feeling the defenders breathing down his neck quicker than he would like, and may be pressured into throwing the ball before his receiver is ready.
So Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli are faced with a dilemma early on; do you send the front four and drop seven in pass coverage or send a blitzer every three or four passes to keep the rookie guessing? Sending the four lineman after the quarterback is a Lovie Smith standard, and if the Bears have early success against a struggling offensive line, there's not really much reason to increase the number of blitzes and free up a checkdown option for Luck. On the flip side, sending in D.J. Moore, one of the safeties, or a linebacker early and often could rattle Luck after a few sacks or quarterback hits, possibly even resulting in a turnover. If Luck suffers a bit of shell shock early on, its likely that the Bears will be able to roll all over the Colts.
Last season, the Bears only blitzed seventeen percent of the time on passing downs, good for 21st in the league. While there has been some talk about the Bears blitzing more often this season, we won't find out until Sunday whether or not they will be embracing the blitz a bit more this season. I'd like to see the Bears maintain the Smith standard, sending four guys to beat a substandard line and allowing the back seven to clog passing lanes, while still sending a blitzer every five or six plays to test the Colts' pass blockers.
Vote in the poll with what you want the Bears to do, and hit the comments section with your thoughts on what would be the most effective way for the Bears to disrupt the Colts' passing offense early on.