Chicago Bears defense must regroup vs. Seahawks QB WIlson
After playing a horrendous second half against Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, even though he was hobbled by a sprained knee, the Bears’ defense must contend with the most elusive quarterback in the NFL Monday night – Seattle’s Russell Wilson.
The Bears’ defense, presumably the strength of the team, was shredded for 299 yards in the second half in Week One, including 273 through the air. Wilson threw for 298 yards and three touchdowns last week in a 27-24 loss to the Broncos, but he was also picked off twice and sacked six times. The seven-year veteran, a four-time Pro Bowler, has only been sacked more times in three other games, even though he has often played behind a deficient offensive line, which could be the case again this year.
Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is well aware of Wilson’s unique escape skills and ability to buy time with his athleticism and agility, but he says even without that knack for avoiding the rush, the Seahawks’ QB would be special.
“No. 1, this guy’s a good quarterback,” Fangio said. “He’s got a big arm. He’s accurate. He sees the field. (He) makes good decisions. And then you add in all his creativity and his elusiveness, and you’ve got a hard guy to deal with.
Wilson has never had a season with a passer rating below 92.6, and he’s been over 100 three times, despite being sacked more than 40 times in each of the past five seasons. He led the NFL with 34 TD passes last year. Wilson has been Seattle’s starter since Week One of his rookie season in 2012, and the Seahawks have won 65 games in those six seasons. Last year’s 9-7 team was the first not to make the playoffs with Wilson at QB.
“He’s been a very productive and winning quarterback for them since he started,” Fangio said. “He’s got a unique skill set. But I think what’s lost with him a lot of times, is this guy’s a good quarterback. If all of a sudden he became a 5.2 runner (in the 40-yard dash), he’d still be a good quarterback, OK? But then you add that in, that creativity and escape ability and the plays he makes that are improvised, that makes him a double threat.”
Last week Rodgers was reduced to a single threat – throwing the ball – and he still shredded the Bears after halftime when he returned from his injury.
“Nothing changed in our approach,” Fangio said. “The biggest thing that happened was we gave up two big pass plays. Any time you give up those types of plays, that will give you the impression that everything has gone haywire. But everything didn’t go haywire. It’s just that they made two really big plays. And the third-and-14 conversion was a very big play in that game.”
“Haywire,” would be a kind description for what happened to the Bears’ defense. That 15-yard pickup on the third-and-14 conversion Fangio alluded to, set up the Packers’ first touchdown, a 39-yard Rodgers-to-Geronimo Allison connection. A 51-yard completion to Davante Adams set up the next Green Bay TD less than five minutes later, and then a short flip to Randall Cobb turned into a 75-yard TD pass.
That makes four really big plays for a combined for 180 yards – all in the game’s final 16:26.
“There really weren’t mistakes, as far as doing the wrong thing,” Fangio said in a futile defense of his players. “We just got beat. So, yeah, we do expect more. We’ve got to win more of those situations, and definitely where they don’t turn into those types of gains.”
By adding three-time Pro Bowl OLB Khalil Mack and drafting ILB Roquan Smith eighth overall, the Bears expected more this year from an already strong defense. Mack had a sack, strip and fumble recovery to go with his pick-6. Smith got a sack on his first play, though he only played seven more snaps, as he continues to work his way back from a hamstring injury. Those accomplishments were overshadowed by the late failures.
“We lost, and that’s the overriding thing,” Fangio said. “Sure we liked the way we saw some things being played and there were a lot of good things out there (in the first half), but ultimately we have to be able to close it out, and we didn’t get it done.”