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Saturday, October 8, 2011
Bears' lacking pass rush problematic

By Jeff Dickerson

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- It might sound like an old cliche, but it really does all start up front for the Bears' defense.

Peppers
Julius Peppers hasn't been all that productive in recent weeks. That will need to change on Monday night.

The best way to mask a suspect secondary is always with a consistent pass rush, which the Bears haven't shown since a Week 1 rout of the Falcons. One reason the Bears rank No. 29 in pass defense (301.5) is because they rank No. 25 in sacks per pass attempt.

"We’ve got to be disciplined, work together," Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. "It all goes together, rush and cover."

A perfect example was this past Sunday's 34-29 home win against Carolina. Panthers rookie quarterback Cam Newton hit on several big plays down the field to Steve Smith. In 46 pass attempts, he wasn't sacked a single time. Granted, Newton is extremely mobile and athletic, but the Bears had chances to bring him down.

"We just have to finish," Bears defensive end Israel Idonije said. "You watch the film, we were getting there, getting movement, just not finishing. We have to finish. That's the bottom line. Last week we had plenty of opportunities to get there. I had two opportunities off the edge and the quarterback got away. I can't let that happen. I have to find a way to make that play and bring him down."

The target won't be so elusive on Monday night -- though he's just as dangerous. Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford prefers to make plays with his arm, not his feet, and prefers to stand in the pocket to allow his receivers to get separation down the field. It's worked up to this point. Stafford has thrown for 1,217 yards and 11 touchdowns while only being sacked five times in 161 passing attempts.

"He doesn't want to run," Idonije said. "He wants to stand in the pocket and deliver the ball down the field. But he looks really poised, and the times there have been pressure, he's been able to get the ball down field. He's in a rhythm right now. We got to get him out of that (rhythm) and you can't let him settle down early."

Stafford has yet to finish a game versus the Bears. He was knocked out with a knee injury in 2009, and then a shoulder injury courtesy of Julius Peppers in 2010. But if the Bears don't put pressure on the Lions quarterback on Monday night, it could be Stafford who delivers the knockout punch this time around.