Standing in front of his locker, Bears cornerback Nathan Vasher couldn't hold back his smile when asked if the defense under new coordinator Bob Babich is more aggressive.
"I can definitely say, `Yeah,' " Vasher said. "We're going to come out, and [the opponent] is going to have to account for the blitzes. We're coming after the quarterback."
On the stat sheet, the Bears were credited with just two sacks in Saturday night's 20-19 exhibition victory over the Houston Texans. But Babich's stamp on the defense was evident. Safeties Adam Archuleta and Mike Brown had third-down blitzes on consecutive possessions early in the game.
Pretty aggressive for an exhibition game.
"I don't know if it's a little more aggressive," Babich said, brushing off any credit. "The preseason gives us an opportunity to see what we have. We were put in a position ... to blitz and see how it worked out. And it worked out pretty good."
The Bears' first-team defense was pretty good despite being without two of its stars, defensive tackle Tommie Harris and linebacker Brian Urlacher. Lineman Dusty Dvoracek set the tone on the very first defensive play, wrapping up Ahman Green for a 1-yard gain. Dvoracek, who missed all of last season, pumped his fist afterward.
"I hadn't played in a game in a long time, so for me, that was big," Dvoracek said. "That's me, I play with a lot of emotion and try to energize everybody."
There was a noticeable enthusiasm from the defense.
Twice in the first half, the Texans started possessions inside the Bears' 25-yard line. The first started at the 16, and the Bears had a goal-line stand that made the Texans settle for a 20-yard field goal by Kris Brown. The other started at the 24, and the Bears yielded no yards on four plays before Brown's 42-yard field goal.
In the first half, the Texans failed to convert any of their seven third-down plays. And they were 0-for-3 in the red zone.
"Overall, it was solid," Mike Brown said of Saturday's effort. "We expect more, actually. But overall, it was pretty decent."
OffenseFor starters: Rex Grossman was sharp in limited action, completing 8 of 10 for 50 yards with a passer rating of 87.5. Grossman completed his first eight passes.
Backup plan: Brian Griese threw a nice pass on his first series—one right into the hands of Houston defender Von Hutchins. But at least he rebounded with a six-play, 70-yard drive ending with 2-yard touchdown toss off play action to fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo.
Surprise guys: Receiver Mark Bradley showed his practice efforts weren't just a mirage with two nice catches, including a 31-yarder from Griese. … Tight end Fontel Mines caught a touchdown pass from Kyle Orton at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Highlight reel: Muhsin Muhammad grabbed a Grossman pass early and tiptoed the sideline for a 10-yard gain.
Key play: Cedric Benson barreling over Texans safety Glenn Earl during a first-quarter run. Not only is Benson ready to take a hit, but he's poised to deliver one too.
DefenseFor starters: Lance Briggs didn't show any rust despite missing the off-season workouts while in a contract dispute. In fact, he played just about as strong as anyone on the Bears' starting defense, which played very little.
Backup plan: Jamar Williams getting time as a starter with Urlacher is a blessing. It means he'll be ready in case anything unfortunate happens during the regular season.
Surprise guys: End Israel Idonije had a fumble recovery late in the third quarter and looked good on special teams coverage. … Safety Brandon McGowan tipped a ball that was headed toward the end zone and he came up to make some nice stops against the run.
Highlight reel: Anthony Adams tipped a pass attempt in the air, but Texans quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt caught the deflection for a completion to himself.
Key play: Charles Tillman knocking the ball out of the hands of Texans receiver Kevin Walter is the kind of play the Bears expect their big-money cornerback to make.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun