A couple stories today on the Bears defense and what the addition of DE Julius Peppers to the right side of the line will mean to this year’s squad.
LB Brian Urlacher is excited about Peppers. He tells the Chicago Tribune that with Peppers harassing the opposing quarterback, that will allow Chicago’s Cover-2 defensive scheme to work more effectively.
"The year before the Super Bowl and the year of the Super Bowl, we were good,'' Urlacher told the paper. "We ran so much Cover 2, and it worked. We had pressure on the quarterback. We had a lot of picks. … We have the talent and the ability to play more man coverage. But here's the thing: Cover 2 works. When we do it right and when we have pressure with our front four and we're breaking on the ball like we've been doing all this spring, it works. There is no doubt in my mind that we will have pressure on the quarterback this season.''
Urlacher said he expects the Bears to blitz less, because it’s assumed Peppers and Mark Anderson will get plenty of pressure by themselves off the edge – they replace Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye, a combined 12.5 sacks in 2009, from last year. Defensive tackles Tommie Harris, who probably won’t see as many double-teams because of Peppers, and Anthony Adams also will be expected to help.
Theoretically, that means the Bears could drop as many as seven defenders into pass coverage.
ESPN Chicago’s Jeff Dickerson, though, wonders about how effective Anderson can be opposite of Peppers.
From his story:
New starter Mark Anderson registered only 3.5 sacks, a far cry from his breakout rookie year in 2006 when he had 12. To further complicate matters, Anderson has been in this position before. He was elevated to first string in 2007, but was unable to effectively play both the pass and run, and eventually lost to starting position back to Brown. What has Anderson done to restore the Bears' faith in him? Why was Brown deemed expendable? These are question only Anderson can answer by his performance on the field. The Bears do have plenty of depth at defensive end in the form of Israel Idonije, Jarron Gilbert and rookie Corey Wootton, but it may be unfair to expect any of the reserves to put up high sack totals.
In the end, much of how the Bears defense will perform comes down to how Peppers plays. If he returns to his form the past two years – where he’s combined for 25 sacks – as opposed to 2007 (when he had just 2.5), he should have the ability to shoulder many of those burdens.
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