For all the hoopla surrounding the Bears' struggles defending the pass lately, especially Sunday against Tennessee, we went back and took a look at the tape of Kerry Collins' 42 drop backs.
A central complaint of defensive linemen, tired of hearing they are not generating enough pressure on the passer, has been that they're pretty much helpless against an onslaught of three-step drops. Well, we found nine by Collins from under center. We broke the pass plays down into five categories, first giving plays in the shotgun their own category. Then, we charted three-step drops from under center, five-step drops from under center, seven-step drops from under center and finally the play-fake rollouts Collins did, which seemed to warrant their own category.
We're not going to pretend to be able to diagnose with certainty what call the Bears were in on every down, so we will not try. But here's what we came up with when tabulating the results:
Kerry Collins vs. Bears
42 drop backs
30-for-41, 289 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT, 1 sack, 108.7 passer rating
14 plays: 10-of-14 passing, 93 yards
3-step drop: 6-of-8 passing, 45 yards, 1 TD, 1 sack
5-step drop: 8-of-11 passing, 75 yards, 1 TD
7-step drop: 3-of-5 passing, 49 yards
Play-fake bootleg: 3-of-3 passing, 27 yards
Kerry Collins vs. the nickel: 12-of-16, 108 yards
Kerry Collins vs. pressure: 9-of-14, 96 yards. The Bears didn't blitz a ton. There were a handful of plays where MLB Brian Urlacher rushed when his man, the running back, stayed in to block. Those were counted as pressures even though the late start didn't give Urlacher much of a chance to get in the backfield and make a play. It's one of the areas we would expect the Bears to take a look at this week. He's being marginalized when he's used that way.
So, draw your own conclusions on whether or not there were too many three-step drops for the Bears to get heat on Collins. The Titans have what is regarded to be one of the best offensive lines in the league.
Here also are some comments from Lovie Smith's press conference Monday:
Q: IS ONE OF THE PROBLEMS WITH THE PASS RUSH THE NUMBER OF THREE-STEP DROPS YOU FACE?
LOVIE: Well, they're not three-step dropping every time. They are throwing it quick sometimes, but this is a typical game. You have some three-step drops, you have some play-action and you'll have some regular drop-back passes. Sometimes the defensive line will have time to get there, sometimes they won't. But it's not just the defensive line, it's not just the linebackers and it's not just the secondary. It's a combination of all. You go through spells like this sometimes where teams can pass the ball a little bit more on you. You go through spells where teams will be able to run the football a little bit more than you'd like, but you just stay the course and things will be OK.
Q: HOW BIG OF AN ISSUE IS DEFENDING THE QUICK SLANT PASSES YOU'VE FACED?
LOVIE: The slant. I've heard a lot about this slant. Every team deals with slants. Look at every game yesterday, you're going to see a team dealing with slants. Slants normally don't beat you. From time to time they'll frustrate you a little bit. But let me get back to the change-up. We change up always. We do it all, so it's just not a question of changing up and all problems are solved. Even with changing it up, you still have to get in position to make a play and make it from time to time.
Q: ARE EXPECTATIONS GREATER FOR HIGHLY PAID DEFENSIVE PLAYERS?
LOVIE: We expect a lot of all of our players on the football field whether you're a Pro Bowler or not. If you're out there, there's a high standard that we have and that's why we're talking a lot about our defensive play, because we have a high standard. Our players know that, but we're not checking their salary or anything like that. It's just that at every position there's a certain amount of play, a certain type of play, that you expect -- [that] we expect. We'll keep working on it until we get it right.