Scouting the Bears
9:03 PM CST, December 23, 2012
Trust what you see, read your keys and play ball.
Sometimes it can be that simple when you are superior on one side of the ball, as the Bears defense was Sunday in a 28-13 win against a lifeless Cardinals offense.
Sure, Larry Fitzgerald made a couple of plays, but was that going to be enough to beat a defense that simply had to execute the game plan to get a win?
Cover-1, Cover-3, zone pressure and Cover-2. That's it when you break this one down from a game-plan perspective. No tricks, gimmicks or exotic looks. I didn't see anything new installed or a game plan that had been flipped out of desperation.
The Bears just played the call in the huddle, executed the techniques and attacked the ball.
Training camp drills, really, versus rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley and an offensive line that isn't ready for the pro game. Outside of Fitzgerald, this Cardinals offense doesn't meet NFL standards in terms of ability to win matchups or move the ball with any consistency.
I saw Lindley practice and run through drills last January at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. He played like a developmental prospect then, and Sunday was no different. Lindley looked every bit a rookie against a veteran group that collapsed the edge of the pocket and eagerly awaited third-down situations in the secondary.
No one should be surprised the Bears ran Lindley to the bench as the Cardinals reluctantly handed the ball to veteran Brian Hoyer in the second half for one last attempt to bring some energy to a stagnant and dull offense.
Julius Peppers earned his money Sunday. So did Charles Tillman, Lance Briggs, Major Wright, Tim Jennings and anyone else who played a snap on defense in a Bears uniform.
When the club cuts the paychecks Tuesday, they should be the first in line.
However, isn't this how it should play out in a game the Bears had to win to keep their playoff hopes alive?
From a defensive player's perspective, you step on the throat of an inferior opponent from the first snap. Hold them down and never let them up. Squeeze the life out of them and make sure to remind them after every failed series that they simply don't belong on the field with you.
The end zone? Nah, you're not getting there today. Not against us. Take it somewhere else.
Dominate the line of scrimmage, eliminate the running game, intimidate wide receivers and let it be known you flew all the way out there to do a job. Against an opponent that has nothing to lose, this is the approach you take as a pro.
You don't let them hang around or gain any confidence. That's not part of the plan.
Lovie Smith won't hand out trophies to his defensive players in the team meeting room Monday, nor will he reward them for basically doing their jobs. There is no need to dish out an overwhelming number of high-fives to this defense for beating up a lousy offense.
But don't let that take away from the importance of the defense's production Sunday.
Because if the Bears didn't get those impact plays that had been missing for weeks, this wouldn't have been the easy win we all saw.
Special contributor Matt Bowen, who played at Glenbard West and Iowa, spent seven seasons in the NFL as a strong safety. You also can find his work at nationalfootballpost.com.
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