Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Have at It: Bears vs. Tom Brady
By Kevin Seifert
We've asked you to fix the NFL's officiating problem and to offer alternatives to the playoff system. So for your next trick as we continue to expand the breadth of "Have at It," tell me this: What should the Chicago Bears do Sunday to stop New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady at Soldier Field?
This game will be the NFL's marquee Week 14 matchup and will come as the Bears protect a one-game lead in the NFC North. The Green Bay Packers are in hot pursuit and play earlier Sunday at the 2-10 Detroit Lions. For the Bears to ensure a division lead at the end of the weekend, they must find a way to slow down the quarterback of an offense that has averaged 40 points per game in its last four contests.
It's a great inside football matchup if you're into that sort of thing. As the chart shows, Brady has the NFL's best passer rating against the blitz. But close observers of the Bears know they have been at their best when using their standard four-man rush.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Bears have sent five or more pass-rushers on 134 of opponents' 465 dropbacks this season, or about 29 percent. On those other 331 dropbacks, when the Bears have rushed their standard pressure, opposing quarterbacks have an NFL-low 68.8 passer rating. The Bears have allowed six touchdowns, intercepted 13 passes and had 15 sacks on those plays.
Of course, it's not as if Brady falls apart when facing a standard rush, which puts an extra man in coverage. His 106.7 passer rating in those situations ranks fourth in the NFL.
So here's our jumping-off point, at least. Do you think the Bears can beat Brady with their standard pressure? Or will they need to come up with something more to hold down the hottest offense in the NFL? As always, I'll publish a representative sample of your ideas, along with my own thoughts, by the end of the week. Start your engines and Have at It.