The Bears need to sack the quarterback.
“I don’t know if there’s such a thing as too many sacks, or too many pressures,” defensive coordinator Alan Williams said this week. “There’s no such thing. That’s like a car too fast or too much money. You can’t have too much or too many.”
Maybe so. By any measure, what the Bears are doing now is not enough.
Despite ranking fourth in the NFL in pressure rate — a third of their opposing dropbacks end in quarterback hurries, knockdowns or sacks — the Bears have posted only six sacks this season. Only seven NFL teams have fewer.
Sunday gives them a chance to get right. The Giants allow a sack on 12.4 percent of their pass plays, the second-highest rate in the league –behind, of course, the Bears. Amazingly, both teams have a quarterback best-known for his athleticism. The Giants’ Daniel Jones, in theory, should be able to escape pressure. He hasn’t this season, though, having been sacked 13 times, the third-most in the league.
Jones provides a vastly different challenge than Texans quarterback Davis Mills, who is as close to a statue as the Bears will play all year.
“It’s not about the other team –It’s about us,” defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad said. “They come in bunches.”
They haven’t yet. The Bears had two sacks in the first 39 minutes of their opener against the 49ers — and four in the 151 minutes since.
“We need more [sacks],” head coach Matt Eberflus said .”It can come from all levels. We need to come from pressure players, safeties, linebackers, nickels, and front. So it’s gotta come from everybody. Certainly we want our four-man rush to get going there and we will get that going, but certainly we need to have some from other spots as well.”
That’s probably bluster. Eberflus’ entire defensive structure is built around rushing the passer with four down linemen — and not a single rusher more. The Bears have blitzed on 7.3 percent of opposing pass plays this season; only the Bills have brought an extra rusher less often.
The Bears maintain that they’re capable of blitzing –but perhaps that’s merely to give the Giants something extra to worry about.
“I would like to think that we have some things in our back pocket that we haven’t shown that may come out at the proper time,” Williams said.
That could look like a blitz by linebacker Roquan Smith or slot cornerback Kyler Gordon. Don’t count on it, though.
“We should be able to stop the run and rush the quarterback with four men,” defensive line coach Travis Smith said. “That’s what, in the system, if you look at the history throughout the teams that have played a four-man front, that’s what the great ones do.”
All but 1/2 of the Bears’ six sacks have come from defensive linemen. Trevis Gipson leads the Bears with two sacks, followed by rookie Dominique Robinson, who has 1 1/2 . Robert Quinn, who set the franchise sacks record last year with 18 1/2 , and defensive tackle Justin Jones have one apiece. Linebacker Roquan Smith shares one with Robinson.
Smith said rushing the passer starts with putting teams in a third-and-long situation by stopping the run. The Bears did that last week, holding the Texans to 3.8 yards per carry after allowing 5.1 over their first two games.
“To have a better control of the game on defense, we have to stop the run to try to make them one-dimensional,” said Quinn, who is questionable for Sunday’s game because of an illness. “Keep them from [making] us be on our heels. And that is, in a sense, a manhood type of thing.”
Now they have to get to Jones.
“We gotta keep pursuing, keep being relentless –and I think the results will turn up,” Gipson said. “We can’t get discouraged because of the amount of sacks we have.”