NFL Team Report - Chicago Bears - INSIDE SLANT


From Week 1 to Week 2, the Chicago Bears' defense seemed to discover a missing formula for shutting down the read-option running attack and running games in general.

Against the New York Jets Monday night they will get another chance to show it was no fluke when they held the San Francisco 49ers to 4.8 yards an attempt, a full yard per rush better than when they played Buffalo in Week 1.

In the process, they'd also like to figure out how to run the ball themselves.

"These guys take pride in running the football," Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said of the Jets. "They've got a number of really good players that they can give the ball to and get production in the run game. They have a very physical offensive line, a hard-nosed, ground-and-pound type of mentality. You can see that on tape with these guys.

"So we have to know which back is in the game and have to set an edge and build a wall inside. They do apply pressure to you with all of their run schemes. They also have the read-option available to them."

The most basic part of defense was what coach Marc Trestman found better in the second game: tackling.

"I thought the tackling was excellent in (the 49er) game overall," he said. "So I think we're moving in the right direction. I thought we certainly moved forward from the week before. More sure tackling, very good at the point, the fits were good, guys knew who had the back, who had the corner, that showed up on the tape.

"A good sign for our read zone work, and we're gonna see it again this week, and it won't be the same, because they'll know how we handle it, and they'll look to change up. So it's an ongoing chess game between offense and defense with the read zone as well."

The Jets will use Chris Ivory, Chris Johnson and Bilal Powell in different ways and formations, not totally unlike what Chicago saw with Buffalo and its running attack in Week 1.

It was the defense's ability to shut down the inside run and then contain San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick that made the comeback win over San Francisco possible. Now they face something similar in Geno Smith and the Jets.

"Certainly we weren't perfect and you can't be against somebody that explosive," coach Marc Trestman said. "But there were certainly those moments during the course of the game where we did level the rush, keep him in the pocket.

"The last play was an example of that. We kept him in the pocket, we forced him to climb. He had no place to go. He made a good throw but at least we forced him to do what our goal was through the week -- to keep him in the pocket and to force him to throw from the pocket. I want to make sure we're not disrespecting him by saying that. And Mel was clear during the week. That he's good from the pocket but he's much better when he's out in space."

Key to the improvement was the linebacker play from Lance Briggs, D.J. Williams and Shea McClellin. Against Buffalo, McClellin had struggled in his first start as a linebacker. He made huge strides against the 49ers, especially against the read-option.

"I thought they were aggressive," Tucker said of his linebackers. "I thought that we fit well. We shed blocks well and finished on the ball."

The Bears stopped the 49ers running game with a healthy Jeremiah Ratliff at three-technique tackle through much of the first three quarters. However, he suffered a concussion and still hasn't practiced this week, or passed his concussion protocol.

The defense was fine with rookies Will Sutton and Ego Ferguson filling in at the moment, but the Jets will have a week to prepare to face a defensive front fortified by inexperienced players.

It wouldn't hurt the Bears to be able to run the ball themselves in order to take possession time from the Jets and force them into playing at a different tempo. However, getting Matt Forte running against the NFL's best run defense, behind a line that includes two reserves seems a stretch. Forte has only 103 yards rushing on 29 carries the first two games.

"I mean, when you're down, you're kind of forced into a situation to throw the ball. So you can't really string together much balance," guard Kyle Long said. "It'll be nice to be up 14-0 where we can really say, 'Well, we're going to run the ball.' That's what we're going to do."