This is Part I of a three-part series previewing the upcoming Chicago Bears series.
The New York Giants constantly change the way things are done in the NFL. Lawrence Taylor did not only alter the type of athletes general managers sought on the defensive side of the ball but also – as you can read in the book-far-better-than-the-film The Blindside – created the need for opposing offenses to draft and pay athletic, bid bodies to block them.
(Side note: The Blindside movie isn’t a bad movie. But it never lives up to it’s wonderful opening.)
When Tom Brady and company were winning every game they played in 2007 and scoring a zillion points a week, the world awaited their coronation on Super Bowl Sunday as quite possibly the greatest football team to ever play. (We know around these parts who currently holds that distinction.) Then something unexpected happened. The Giants changed changed the way things are done again by launching an assault from a pass-rushing well that seemed ever-ending. They did the same to Brady in 2011.
Since 2007 pass rushers have become the hottest commodity in American sports and former Bears GM Jerry Angelo embraced this concept by purchasing Julius Peppers for the more than $90 million, $50 million of which Peppers is sure to receive. The approach of Angelo and Lovie was simple: buy an elite edge rusher and develop young talent opposite him.
That young talent is Corey Wootton and Shea McClellin and they – as a duo – are essential to the success of the 2013 Chicago Bears. The Bears have a terrific secondary and the greatest fumble causer in the history of the league in Peanut Tillman but the modern NFL does not allow for secondaries to dominate a football game. Every rule change made in the last decade has been made to benefit the wide receiver. If the Bears showcase an anemic pass rush and give opposing quarterbacks time, receivers WILL get open. Plays WILL be made. Points WILL be scored.
Writers, even myself, are prone to establish quantitative rationale to success at the defensive end position. So and so needs this many sacks to have a successful year. This team needs this many sacks from this guy to blah blah blah. It just isn’t the way football works. If Shea McClellin sacks Andy Dalton five times on opening Sunday and finishes the year with 10.5 sacks, was that a successful campaign? (I’ll hang up and listen to your answer.)
The Bears need consistent, down-for-down pressure. They need to hurry opposing quarterbacks. They need to hit opposing quarterbacks. If they make life uncomfortable for Dalton, Stafford, Rodgers, Roethlisberger footballs will end up in compromising positions and no defense in the league takes more advantage of compromised footballs than this current crop of Chicago Bears. Peppers will draw enough attention from offensive coordinators to provide McClellin and Wootton with opportunities. If they take advantage the Bears will among the elite defenses in the NFL.