Offense more to blame in Titans' loss

 
 
Published11/16/2008 12:01 AM

Q. The defense was ripped for last week's loss, yet they allowed inly 304 total yards and 21 points despite being handicapped by poor field position. Was that a game that the defense lost?

A. I think it was a lack of contribution by the offense to keep themselves on the field and score more than 14 points. I think there were more plays left on the field by the offense than the defense. The Titans are a good football team and if you take something away from them offensively, they're going to do something else. That's the challenge for the Bears. They're a good football team, but when they make a team one-dimensional, and they're challenged by the next facet, they have to make coaching changes in philosophical thinking in order to make sure that they change with their opponent.

 

Q. Why are some of the Bears' defensive linemen upset with the way the unit is playing? Is it the scheme?

A. They're probably upset because of the public's perception that the defensive ends should have 12-16 sacks a year because of the way they're being paid. But the reality of it is when teams get ready to play the Bears, they think of them as a fast-paced defensive line with Tommie Harris on the inside and quality defensive ends, so they get a continuous diet of shotgun and three-step drops, and the pace of the play is such that you're not going to get a huge amount of sacks. But when you look at the positioning of the cornerbacks on certain downs and distances, you get the feel that they're positioning themselves in such a way that the quarterback can get an easy pre-snap read and make the completion. So, what are you going to do to be a deterrent to the quarterback feeling that he has a solid pre-snap read? Some of it's going to come from the linebackers bringing pressure on blitzes. But maybe you have to blitz from off the line of scrimmage because, if you walk up to the line, you're easily identified and easily blocked by an offensive lineman. Maybe it's going to come from the cornerbacks playing a series of press coverages, where they get a jam and alter the route of the receiver and change the pace of the passing play. But sometime it's going to come from the offense spending more time on the field. They started with a 14-play drive and then had very limited snaps. It puts the defense on the field more in pressure situations.

Q. The Vikings had success blitzing linebackers last week and forcing Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers into a subpar performance. Do you expect the Bears to try something similar?

A. A lot of it is Aaron Rodgers' willingness to hold on to the ball until the last possible second and trusting his arm strength to get the pass completed. I think you attack Aaron Rodgers, but you also go back and look at when a linebacker or even a defensive end is going to be blocked by a back, they have to dominate. If they're not going to get a sack, they have to at least make the quarterback move his feet or change the trajectory of the pass. The linebackers have to get there when there's only a running back standing between them and the quarterback.

Q. Should Charles Tillman and Nate Vasher be playing more press coverage, and are they healthy enough to do it?

A. A lot of times you have to ask the cornerback how he likes to see the field. If Tillman gets a jam on a receiver before he gets off the line of scrimmage, he's going to change the course and the timing of his route and it's really going to be effective. You'd have to ask Nate if he's a player who likes to see the field from off the line of scrimmage so he can digest more information between the down and distance, the formation, the personnel groupings and their placement on the field. I would like Charles to play press coverage because of his body style - long arms, bigger guy, more physical - and Nate would like to be off the line of scrimmage and see the football coming toward him and digest a little more information.

• Tom Thayer answers key questions each week from Daily Herald sports writer Bob LeGere. Thayer's analysis can also be heard during each Bears broadcast on WBBM 780-AM.

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