With 9:06 remaining in the 4th quarter Sunday, Nick Roach registered the first regular-season sack by a Bears LB since the final game of the 2010 season. In a league where teams throw the ball over 50 times per game on a regular basis, that’s a pretty incredible stat. But Lovie Smith wouldn’t have it any other way.
The founding principles of Lovie’s version of the cover-2 are pressure with the front 4, dropping 7 into coverage, and taking the ball away. The defense doesn’t work as well if he has to bring more than 4 in order to get heat on opposing QB’s. This is why his defenses were so successful when Warren Sapp & Tommie Harris were in their prime’s. And this is exactly why the current iteration of Lovie’s Tampa 2 was so dominant in yesterday’s win.
Scouting combine legend Stephen Paea, healthy for the first time in his young pro career, was an absolute terror. He wasn’t alone. Israel Idonije & Amobi Okoye turned in perhaps their best performances as Bears and #90 earned every one of those zeros on his paycheck. Shea McClellin didn’t register one of the 6 sacks on the day, but his 3rd down speed presence on the outside helped Peppers & Melton get singled up in the middle. The constant pressure from the tackles and ends, without any help from blitzing backers or corners, made it difficult all day for Bradford to find anyone to throw the ball to.
Granted, the St. Louie Rams line was bad before the injury bug hit. But you can only play who lines up across from you. On a day when the offense looked eerily similar to the 2006 vintage (that’s for another post) it was nice to have the Monsters of the Midway back and the old winning formula working.