By Adam Hoge-
HALAS HALL (CBS) The verdict is in.
How do you prevent Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles and Marques Colston from beating you?
Don’t let Drew Brees get the football to them.
“Try to rattle Drew a little bit,” defensive end Julius Peppers said. “That’s the biggest chance you have to beat these guys, is to rattle him and get him out of his game.”
It’s not like that is some revolutionary concept, but for this Bears team, it’s something they have failed to do through four games. Peppers was much more effective last week against the Lions, but he didn’t get much help and Matthew Stafford was able to get rid of the ball quickly on short passing routes, contributing to the Lions putting up 40 points.
And Brees has more weapons than Stafford does. He’s also Drew Brees.
“He’s so damn accurate,” cornerback Charles Tillman said. “So I think that’s the biggest challenge that we have. The way you take that away is pass rush. I think this would be a good game for our d-line to get some pressure on Drew and hopefully he can throw us some.”
There may have been just a hint of frustration in there, but you can’t blame Tillman, as the Bears’ secondary relies on the defensive line and vice versa. The defensive backs haven’t been perfect through four games, but they’ve been good enough despite little pressure being generated up front. The Saints have allowed 12 sacks through four games (ninth most in the league), but the Bears only have six sacks this season, which ranks 30th in the NFL.
“I think it’s important for our d-line to get pressure on the quarterback,” Tillman said. “We’re a team built on pass rush and covering. You have to have rush and cover and it goes both hand-in-hand like a marriage. When they play great, we play great. When the DBs play terrible, I’m sure our d-line is not doing so good. We both have to play good in order to be great.”
And they’re going to have to be great to beat the Saints Sunday.
Paea Plans To Play
Of course, it might be hard for the Bears to generate enough pressure on Drew Brees on Sunday if defensive tackle Stephen Paea doesn’t play.
Paea did not practice Friday as he continues to nurse a turf toe injury he suffered last week against the Lions.
But despite gingerly walking off the field Friday after not practicing all week, Paea said he plays on playing Sunday.
“I’m feeling good,” he said. “Just a precaution today. Get ready for more treatments today and tomorrow. You know, be ready for Sunday.”
Paea is officially listed as “questionable” for Sunday’s game against the Saints, but he plans on playing through the injury, just like he did last week against the Lions.
“I just had to push through it,” he said. “Our team was down and I felt like they needed me and I needed myself to pick it up.”
The Bears are already down Henry Melton who suffered a season-ending torn ACL two weeks ago and have been forced to play Julius Peppers and Corey Wootton at the three-technique on some snaps because of the lack of depth. They also used Landon Cohen last week, even though he was signed just 48 hours before the game with the Lions and had not practiced with the team yet.
If Paea can’t play, the Bears might be forced to activate undrafted rookie Zach Minter, although it might be more likely that rookie defensive end David Bass gets the call. Trestman indicated Friday that Bass has received some work inside with Paea missing practice this week.
– Tillman is also listed as questionable, but his groin and knee injuries have improved this week and there is little doubt he will play Sunday.
– Brandon Marshall (foot) is listed as probable and head coach Marc Trestman said he expects the wide receiver to play.
– Trestman singled out wide receiver Lance Moore as a guy the Saints have done a good job of developing. Moore was just getting started in the league when Trestman was a consultant with the Saints in 2007.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.