Chicago Sun-Times

Zeroing in on Orlando Pace vs. Jared Allen

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MINNEAPOLIS--As bad as the Bears' running game has been this season--the joke going around this week was they no longer get off the bus running, they get off a minivan running--they're going to have to be able to throw the ball this afternoon against the Vikings to have success.

That means they're going to have to keep the pocket clean for quarterback Jay Cutler, and that's something the offense has struggled to do this season against pass rushers far less accomplished than the Minnesota front four. Jared Allen leads the NFL in sacks since being drafted in 2004 with 68. He's got 10 1/2 this season and terrorized the Bears for 4 1/2 last season. The thinking in getting Orlando Pace--and it's not like general manager Jerry Angelo had a bounty of options when John Tait surprised the team by surprising--was that he'd definitely improve pass protection.

Pace played a solid game last week vs. Philadelphia's Trent Cole, a compact, high-energy guy that some figured would give the lumbering Pace fits. Now, the bar is raised with Allen, the Vikings' right end. Pace has some familiarity with him. The Rams and Chiefs, where Allen came from, play every year in preseason. Pace has faced him once in the regular season in 2006 in a game in which Allen had two sacks of St. Louis quarterback Marc Bulger.

"Jared is having a good year,'' Pace said. "I've played him a few times. You know he's a guy who is going to give a lot of effort on every play. He's going to keep coming. So you have to really block him to the whistle. But he's having a really good year. He's a younger guy [when I played him before], so he probably gotten a lot better.''

The Bears can't focus their help solely on Allen. Ray Edwards, the left end, has 5 1/2 sacks and the Bears have a less experienced tackle on that side in Chris Williams. Plus, they have to keep an eye on tackle Kevin Williams, who is just as talented as Allen. The Vikings have 115 quarterback hurries through 10 games. It's a subjective statistic, but that is an eye-opening number.

"I never ask for help, but it can be tough,'' Pace said. "Sometimes there's crowd noise. There's a lot of different elements that kind of go unnoticed. You have to really be focused in and be on your game there.''

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It is going to be a LOOOOONG day for Pace. The Vikings have demonstrated how to build a team, hitting on draft picks and spending on key free agents. The Bears , on the other hand, have tried to stand pat, missed on both free agent acquisitions (Pace, Archuletta, Tinoisaoma, G.Adams ect...) and the draft (Haynes, Grossman, Bauzin, Dusty D.) This is a team without direction and without a GM capable of turning it around.

The weakness of the Vikings is obviously against the pass and in the running game (usually on passing downs) on the left side directly at Jared Allen as evidence of Ray Rice and others running success against the Vikes. Jared pass rushes sometimes are very wide and leave a large hole while he is circling the tackle to get to the QB, if the outside linebacker can be cleared out there is running room at times on the left,usually dependant on Jared Allen's route to the QB.

The key to the game from a defensive perspective is Tommie Harris against the number two guard and the rest of the defensive front four getting to Favre quickly. If Favre is given any time, forget it.

If the Bears can hold the Vikes to 24 they could win the game if Cutler has success, there is great play with the tight ends, Hester or Knox makes a big play and there is an efficient running and screen game. Also if the Bears win field position through the help of the special teams play and of course winning the turnover battle by 2 or more, then a win would not be out of the question for the BEARS.

It could happen, I know some will say "when pigs fly" but in battles within the division these games are hard fought and tighter than most may think.

Go Bears!! Bears 27- ViQueens 24

The first step in running the table starts today. I know that I am an eternal optomist, but never give up till its over, they have to have the "capturing Iwo Jima attitude", as evidence of our fine Marines in the battle of the pacific during World War II. I am not that old, just enjoy history.

Jared Allen + Orlando Pace = Caleb Hanie

We can have some success if we keep the Vikings out of the backfield. Hopefully the interior 3 can handle the Williams wall in pass protection at least. Running the ball will be a joke. Pace and Williams will have to win their one on one matchups against Allen and Edwards/Robison. That is not something I have a lot of confidence in. I think Williams can hold his own on the right side, but Pace is going to need help with Jared Allen. Every OT in the league needs help with Jared Allen for that matter.

The best way to slow him down will be to chip him with Forte/Bell, and then throw the screen to his side a couple of times early. Then he will have to hesitate, which will give Pace a chance to set up in protection and give Cutler a fighting chance.

We will have to avoid Winfield's side for most of the game, so Olsen, Bennett, and the running backs are going to be the passing game. Knox can also have some success in the slot. But Hester is going to have a hard time getting open on Winfield.

Mrmick,
You have a point, and this is what is separating the men from the boys so to speak in the NFL. Jerry Angelo is the boy who would be king of general managers. He risked it all on Cutler, when he did not have the setup to make it successful. He is going to hang Lovie and Turner on the poor performance of the team, and a lot of the blame lies with them, but the bottom line remains that he has failed in the trenches. Williams as the only high draft pick on the offensive line, and he has missed on many of his high picks on the other side of the ball as you mentioned. He also gave up a 2 for Gaines Adams, who so far has had as much impact on the game as I have. Stopgap free agents are not a substitute for solid drafting. We have zero depth at most positions, and weak starters in many others.

This is a team bankrupt of talent across the board. Cutler is a stud, but a Ferrari engine installed on a go-kart is not all that successful. Outside of Cutler, we do not have a premier talent at any position on the field on offense. Briggs is our only blue-chip on defense. Maynard, Mannelly, and Gould, who are all among the better players at their position in the league, make special teams a continued strength of this squad. Love plays it close to the vest and conservative, because the only guys he can count on are the punter, kicker, and long snapper. Since when is that a formula for the playoffs and Super Bowl?

Biggs,

you said...
"The thinking in getting Orlando Pace--and it's not like general manager Jerry Angelo had a bounty of options when John Tait surprised the team by surprising--was that he'd definitely improve pass protection."

Well...here's my thinking. The Bears have got to be out of their mind to replace 3 starters on the O-line in the off season and think everything was going to be ok. They didn't have to do this. They could have held onto St.Clair for a little extra pocket change just to keep the offensive line stable. Yes...he wasn't the best...but much better than Orlando Pace....much better than throwing a monkey wrench into the O-line. With williams replacing tate, making additional moves was an idiotic move on Angelo's part. Angelo had an option, for sure. It was...hold on to St.Clair for another season or two until they can fill the position with somebody better.
Now...what do you do? Pace won't be here next year so why are they playing him? I'll tell you why. Because angelo and lovie want the best chance possible to get the most wins possible so they don't get fired. Next year...it starts all over again. With Pace gone, they will disrupt any continuity they gained this year and it will take another year of cutler being pounded game after game and no running game.
What the bears need to do is fire both lovie and angelo immediately and hire an available top coach. Make changes on the line and evaluate all the players and coaches for next year's roster.

I bet all of us would be saying roughly the same thing Lovie’s saying if we were in his shoes. Despite losing, I saw some positives in the loss to the Eagles, and believe the Bears are headed in the right direction, albeit several weeks too late.

Firstly, I thought the run blocking was finally starting to mesh. Replacing Omiyale with Beekman hasn’t produced much push up the middle (as we all knew would be the case), but has cut down on the number of times Forte was meeting the defense in the backfield. Aside from the Bell run, there were some good gains of 4 to 8 yards and some decent holes. Some of those were brought back by penalties, but I thought it was a good showing, for Forte too. In terms of getting on a roll, facing the Vikings next doesn’t help, but I think the Bears will run the ball much better than most of us expect. One thing has to happen though, and that is, Ron Turner needs to stick with the running game. A 42 to 18 pass to run ratio just doesn’t do it. He also needs to be a little more creative than just giving Bell 3 consecutive plays each half.

The passing game still has its problems, but there were improvements, mostly in the play calling. It’s one of the very few times this season Turner called corner routes, where the receiver heads for the back corner of the end-zone, and Cutler found Olsen, Hester and K. Davis running free. Only the pass to Davis was completed, but the accuracy problem will be quickly fixed. The bigger problem was that the Bears weren’t running it at all up until the Eagles game. It’s one of the safest pass patterns in the book, because the defender only has a chance to get it if it’s badly under-thrown, and with the straight-line speed the Bears have at WR, and with the Bears’ tall and speedy TEs, the Bears should be a team that runs that route to death with success. It’s ridiculous that Turner would keep sending receivers up the middle of the field where all of the defenders are, especially with the Bears having trouble in the red-zone. And I seriously hope Turner sticks to it. I also believe Knox hit his rookie wall several weeks ago. This is not to say he doesn’t have a future, or will not make plays every once in a while, but right now he can only get open when he’s running in a straight line (drag routes, slants, fly routes), and shouldn’t be relied upon regularly. Aromashodu needs to be in there more often running corner routes. And all of the receivers need to come back towards Cutler when he’s scrambling.

The defense is holding up fairly well given the circumstances. Hillenmeyer is a better SAM, and Roach is a better MIKE, but Roach can’t get everybody lined up right, and we have to settle for the current lineup. I think we’re getting about what we can expect from Afalava and Manning this year; it will get better with experience and better LB play. Bowman is starting to show what he can do, and like it or not, Harris is the engine of this defense, and he’s starting to turn it on.

I will go out on a limb and say that this could turn into the upset of the week, or a very competitive game at the least. Yes, I am an optimist, and refuse to waist the next six weeks wondering who’ll be the next coach. As far as I’m concerned, there’s still football to be played, the Bears are 4-6 and still in the wild-card race. Go Bears!

Ummm Brad John Tait retiring only seems to have surprised you and the Bears. The Bears had to beg Tait to play the previous year, when he wanted to retire because of his ankles. After a season where Tait showed further degeneration in his legs and was moved to RT which is proof the Bears new he was in severe decline. They new his ankles where bad and they new he wanted to retire, then he played a bad season at RT. How were they surprised when he left? People on this board have been calling for Angelo to draft line talent for years, you have been calling for him to draft line talent for years. Now your surprised? You wanted Jeff Otah in the draft. My god I said at the end of 08 that Tait was done and look for him to hang it up. You wrote he is really struggling and you said he was having severe problems with his ankles. Every Bear fan in the country knows they should have been drafting more offensive linemen for the last three years. But Angelo refused and threw away pick after pick. I have been arguing this for years, their is no chance you are surprised, stop making excuses for this team.

If Angelo was even half way decent he would have been drafting line talent for an aging line, but once again he added aging FA's which he has a clear history of doing. He ignores the offensive line in the draft and gets FA's for the line. He signed freaking Fred Miller last year in the middle of the season, because they where desperate for OT help. He new they needed help he just didn't do a damn thing about it. The Bears could have had Phil Loadholt playing RT, but wanted Gilbert instead who has been inactive all season.

Will you be surprised this off season when Orlando Pace is gone? Or is Angelo so stupid that he will want him back? He has one damn draft pick on the line this year. One, and he sucks.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on November 29, 2009 8:35 AM.

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