Liberal use of blitz proves effective against Raiders
BY MARK POTASH Staff Reporter August 25, 2013 9:40PM
James Anderson, Corey Wootton, Rashad Jennings
Updated: September 27, 2013 6:31AM
NFL teams generally avoid showing too much in preseason games, but the Bears’ defense was anything but vanilla Friday against the Oakland Raiders.
Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker threw a series of blitzes from all angles at the Raiders. (It doesn’t hurt to put those things on tape and give future opponents something to think about.) It was probably an added bonus for Tucker that most of the blitzes by the first-team defense were effective.
‘‘That’s stuff we’ve got,’’ free safety Chris Conte said. ‘‘It’s preseason. We’re going to run some different things to test them out. It’s all stuff that’s in our package. We were just testing things.’’
As it turned out, the Bears’ first four blitzes against the Raiders resulted in a negative play or no gain:
† On second-and-seven on the Raiders’ second series,
Conte blitzed. Defensive end Julius Peppers stopped running back Rashad Jennings for a two-yard loss.
† On the next play, linebackers Lance Briggs and James Anderson blitzed, and quarterback Matt Flynn’s hurried pass was intercepted by cornerback Tim Jennings.
† After Jacoby Ford returned a kickoff 62 yards to the Bears’ 38, cornerback Charles Tillman nudged toward the line of scrimmage, came on a blitz and sacked Flynn for a seven-yard loss.
† On yet another blitz on the first play of the Raiders’ next series, Briggs stopped Rashad Jennings for no gain.
It remains to be seen how effective the Bears will be with their blitzes during the regular season, but most indications are they will try to be a little more inventive than they were in former coach Lovie Smith’s version of the cover-2. The Bears applied pressure from all over under Smith, but they got most of their sacks from the defensive line. All but three of their 41 sacks last season came from the line, and the secondary had none.
It’s an area where Tucker can tweak Smith’s defense and make it even more effective.
‘‘Definitely,’’ Conte said. ‘‘I can’t remember the last time a safety got a sack. Hopefully we can make that happen this year. It’s definitely something we can work on.’’
‘‘That’s what we’re trying to figure out,’’ Tim Jennings said. ‘‘That’s what the preseason is for. I think coach Tucker is
doing a good job trying to figure that out. He wants to mix it up and see what works and what doesn’t, when it’s time to call blitzes and when it’s not.’’
The regular season will tell the tale. But no matter how much the Bears blitz or where they blitz from, players such as Conte and Jennings have put their faith in Tucker to get things right.
‘‘I see . . . we’re kind of blitzing more than we did last year,’’ Jennings said. ‘‘But that was this game. Last game [against the San Diego Chargers], we didn’t blitz a lot. I can’t get a bead on coach Tucker right now. But he’s calling a good game plan. I’m happy.’’