Bears feel passing tension on defense Print
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Thursday, 13 November 2008 14:29
NFL Headline News

 LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) -The passing insecurity Chicago Bears cornerback Corey Graham felt this week had little to do with the fact that he's just in his second season and lacks the resume of his accomplished teammates.
Something else was making him uncomfortable.
He wasn't alone, either.
The Bears are getting picked apart by passes and they're about to head to Green Bay, where the Packers rarely hand the ball off. So forgive Graham for being just a little concerned.
``Right now, everybody is on thin ice,'' he said. ``It's real tense around here as far as the DBs. We know they throw the ball.''
And he knows what happens when opponents do that.
Although they're not getting beaten by the deep ball, only two teams are allowing more yards per game than the Bears at 251.8. They've allowed at least 280 the past four games against Atlanta, Minnesota, Detroit and Tennessee, and none of those teams rank higher than 19th in yards passing.
The takeaways that were a trademark in the past aren't coming, either.
t one against Tennessee last week - a fumble recovery by Graham on a fourth-down run that got stopped just shy of the end zone - and did not pick off a pass. That gives them six interceptions in the last four games, with four coming against Minnesota on Oct. 19, and a heavy dose of angst.
Why?
``When you give up 300 yards to teams that don't normally throw the ball like that, it's going to be tense,'' said Graham, who started three games for the injured Nathan Vasher before playing the past two at nickel back. ``It's our jobs on the line. We've got to go out there and be accountable.''
Pressure from the defensive line would help, but instead, they're giving opposing quarterbacks enough time to burn them with quick slants. Kerry Collins did that last week while passing for a season-high 289 yards and leading Tennessee to a 21-14 victory.
Collins got sacked just once, and similar scenarios played out earlier in the season when the Bears played Tampa Bay and Atlanta.
The Buccaneers' Brian Griese was able to unleash 67 passes without being sacked in late September, and the Falcons' Matt Ryan remained on his feet despite throwing 30 times. And while the Packers' Aaron Rodgers has been sacked four times in each of the past two games, he might be breathing a little easier this week.
e this team win games,''' said defensive end Adewale Ogunleye, who had a sack against Tennessee.
The Bears (5-4) expected their defense to get back to the dominant form it showed in 2005 and 2006 after an injury-wrecked 7-9 season last year, but the results are mixed.
The Bears are holding opponents to 74.9 yards rushing per game, and they insist there's no reason they can't shut down the passing game too, even when they're using eight-man fronts. Linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher have been faking blitzes by setting up at the line, but that seems to open up the short passes.
``You want to confuse your offensive linemen, give your defensive tackles an opportunity to get one-on-ones or free some of your defensive tackles up to get to the quarterback,'' Briggs said. ``Being up there and making yourself accountable in that box, you can't be ignored.''
But the way Briggs sees it, execution is the problem - not the game plan - and the problems the Bears had stopping Tennessee on third down particularly grated on him.
``Against Tennessee, all around we didn't play as good football as we had in the two weeks previous,'' he said. ``They got off some third-and-longs. When you have a team that's getting out of third-and-15, third-and-14, that right there I don't care what scheme you're in. ... There's no way that people should be getting first downs. That is solely on us.''
Notes: QB Kyle Orton practiced Thursday on a limited basis, but his status for Sunday remained unclear because of sprained ankle that caused him to miss the Tennessee game.
 

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