By Chris Emma—
(CBS) Leave it to rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky for a reminder of what the Bears are up against in New Orleans against Drew Brees and the Saints on Sunday.
As a young quarterback establishing himself, Trubisky has studied what makes Brees so special. For several years, he has scouted the poise with which Brees operates. It’s what Trubisky aspires to be as a player.
“You just look at what he brings to the table as far as accuracy – I mean, he can throw the ball wherever he wants,” Trubisky said. “He’s been doing that for years.
“He’s got great footwork, a great base, he’s good with progressions. Yeah, he can put the ball wherever he wants. He’s got some of the best accuracy.”
Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Trubisky will watch from the sidelines hoping his defense can stymie Brees the same way it did Cam Newton and Joe Flacco the last two weeks. It’s a task easier said than done.
Brees has been sacked just five times in six games, and getting pressure in his pocket is hard to accomplish. For a Bears defense that has relied on disruption, the secondary must stay disciplined.
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio noted the quick release of Brees and sound protection up front. When he does get pressured, Brees is able to step the right way and get the football out.
“You got to know what he’s doing,” Bears linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski said of Brees. “Really, as a defense, use your techniques and be on the same page. As long as everyone’s on the same page, things have a better chance of going our way. As long as everyone’s doing the same things, running the same stuff, we’ll be all right. He’s a guy that can kind of tell when things are off – he can find that weakness.”
The film of Brees in the pocket didn’t faze Bears defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, he of six sacks this season – one more than the Saints (4-2) have surrendered. A teammate with Brees for three-plus seasons, Hicks has seen first-hand what the future Hall of Fame quarterback can do, but he also believes in this defense.
In their last two games, the Bears (3-4) have forced six turnovers – including three defensive returns for touchdowns – and a great deal of their success on defense can be attributed to pressure in the pocket.
“As a front, we have to get after the quarterback,” Hicks said. “Leonard Floyd is going to do a good job getting off the edge and hopefully making some plays. We’re going to have a great contribution from Pernell McPhee, our outside linebacker group up front shutting down the run so we can make them one-dimensional and get after him.”
Making the Saints’ offense one-dimensional is more difficult than in seasons past. Mark Ingram presents a powerful runner for the Bears to identify in short-yardage situations, while rookie Alvin Kamara must be accounted for on every play.
Kamara has accounted for 424 yards of total offense – 215 rushing and 209 receiving – and has 29 receptions on the season, which makes him the Saints’ second-leading receiver. With top target Michael Thomas nursing a knee injury this week, it could be Kamara working as the top playmaker for Brees.
“Drew’s real aware of where the backs are all the time, whether they screen a lot or it’s in a check down,” Bears coach John Fox said. “He’s a very experienced quarterback. Guys do that. They don’t try to force the ball. They take what the defense gives them.”
That’s where the discipline must play a factor. The Bears can’t let Brees extend plays and find somebody like Kamara through a seam in coverage. Trubisky and the offense have struggled to put up points, which means the defense must hold steady for the Bears to earn a victory.
Getting pressure in the pocket is only half the battle for the Bears. They need to remain disciplined to avoid letting Brees put his trademark accuracy on display.