The Bears won’t be battling just the Jaguars on Sunday at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla.
If they look hard at the numbers, they’ll also have to struggle to avoid looking past what has been one of the NFL’s worst teams, especially on offense, for two years running.
The Jaguars are 1-3 and dead-last offensively in yards, points and average gain per pass.
They’re coming off a 5-11 season and are experiencing growing pains with 2011 first-round draft pick Blaine Gabbert at quarterback.
They also were last in the league in 2011 in passing yards and total yards.
Defensively, the Jaguars are last in sacks, 30th in rushing yards allowed and 26th in total yards allowed. But they have the makings of a decent defense and were in the top 10 last season in total yards, passing yards and rushing yards allowed, while finishing 11th in points allowed.
So the Bears, coming off an impressive Monday night romp over the Cowboys at Dallas, say they won’t come in overconfident again, as they may have done in Week 2 at Green Bay.
“We just got our butts kicked,” middle linebacker Brian Urlacher said of this season’s only loss. “We didn’t play well. We didn’t get enough take-aways and turned the ball over too much on offense. That’s all it came down to.
“I’m not sure if we were full of ourselves. (But) you can’t just walk into a game and win. You have to go out there and play and perform and make plays to win a game. You’re not going to show up and win. Teams aren’t going to roll over in this league for you.”
On paper, the Jaguars’ offense appears to be no threat to the Bears’ defense, which is No. 1 in interception percentage, No. 2 in third-down efficiency, No. 3 in rushing yards allowed and No. 5 in points allowed and sacks.
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli isn’t interested in the numbers or playing the game on paper or reading glowing accounts of his group.
“Once you think you’ve arrived, you’ve lowered your standards,” Marinelli said. “You’ve stopped growing, and your standards shrink.”
According to outside linebacker Lance Briggs, the veteran defense has some qualities that will guard against a letdown.
“Discipline,” Briggs said. “Not overlooking anyone. The Jaguars have played some good football; they have some good players. And for us, it’s another game that we have to get sharper.
“We had a game against the Cowboys where we were productive in all phases. We need to be productive again but take it up a notch.”
The Bears also are unlikely to dismiss an offense that features running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who shouldn’t be overlooked even at 5-feet-7. He rumbled for 1,606 yards last season, despite the lack of a viable passing game to take defensive attention away from him.
“Sometimes he gets lost behind the line of scrimmage,” Urlacher said. “As a taller guy, sometimes I have to stand (straight) up to see where those guys are at.”
But, while Jones-Drew is short, the 208-pounder is not little. He’s a load.
“He’s thick,” Urlacher said. “He runs hard. We’ve got to get a lot of guys on him, run to the football and tackle him; (then) we should be OK.”
Last season was the third straight season over 1,300 rushing yards for Jones-Drew. He’s seventh in the NFL this season with 352 rushing yards and is averaging 4.9 yards per carry. He also has caught 40 or more passes in five of his six previous seasons.
“Believe me, this guy is really something; so we know going in, this is going to be physical,” Marinelli said. “He’s low, he’s physical, he’s got great balance and he bounces off things.
“But we’ve just got to use our speed, and we have to get off blocks and get as many guys tackling him as possible.”
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