The slow start of the Chicago Bears front four has been discussed ad nauseum through six weeks. So far the Bears have a total of eight sacks, which ranks 30th in the NFL. Only four of those eight have come courtesy of the defensive line. One each by Julius Peppers, Corey Wootton, and Nate Collins, and a sack that was split between Shea McClellin and Stephen Paea. That's simply not good enough with a scheme that is predicated on generating a pass rush by the front four.
So what is new defensive coordinator Mel Tucker to do? His defensive line isn't providing the pressure that he needs to run Lovie Smith's Tampa 2, so he has to blitz. The 4 non-D-Line sacks that he's received from his team is already more than in 2012 (3), and 2011 (2). But how much is he actually blitzing so far?
The results may surprise you.
Ben Volin is a writer for the Boston Globe, and earlier today he tweeted out some data that he is compiling for his Sunday article. Here's the tweet, and the data on how often teams are blitzing in 2013.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Preview for Sunday column: How often does your favorite <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23NFL&src=hash">#NFL</a> team blitz? (big assist to <a href="https://twitter.com/PFF">@PFF</a>) <a href="http://t.co/YIM39yHNDn">pic.twitter.com/YIM39yHNDn</a></p>— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) <a href="https://twitter.com/BenVolin/statuses/391240236476297216">October 18, 2013</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
The Bears have blitzed the 12th least amount so far? That number surprised me. But I was even more surprised when I looked up the frequency of Bears' blitzes the last few years under Lovie and then defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
Pro Football Focus aided Volin's column, so I figured I'd find my data with them as well. Here is Chicago's blitz percentage since 2010.
* through 6 games
Tucker is sending five or more players a bit more than in the past, but not as much as I thought. He's right about even with the 2010 team that happened to be Marinelli's first year calling defensive plays. The Bears had 9 non-D-Line sacks that year by the way.
Ideally, the Bears would like their D-Line will snap out of their funk, but if that doesn't happen, Tucker may be forced to blitz even more. Maybe he incorporates some more zone blitz into his scheme. Drop some of his athletic linemen while sending linebackers or defensive backs after the QB.
Something has to be done to to get to the quarterback.
Julius Peppers is the first Bear to show up in the QB Hurries category in PFF's positional breakdowns, and he's way down tied for 26th with ten. Shea McClellin has seven hurries, tied with the returning Stephen Paea, but the most effective defensive lineman has been Wootton. While playing defensive tackle Wootton has six hurries, and he also has six rushing from end.
Personally I'd like to see him return to DE, and only kick inside on some passing downs, but with the injury issues the Bears have inside, he's forced to play the three technique DT.
What are your thoughts on the Bears pass rush so far?
Do you see the line coming around or do you think Tucker will have to blitz even more to generate pressure?
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- The Bears Den: October 18, 2013 - Week 7 news and notes
- Where's Lovie Smith these days?
- Chicago Bears Sackwatch 2013: Week 6 vs. New York Giants
- The Bears Den: October 17, 2013 - Week 7 news and notes
- Chicago Bears Playbook - Jon Bostic's Debut in Review