Getting to Warner critical for the Bears on Sunday
If the 4-3 Bears don't put more pressure on the Cardinals' Kurt Warner Sunday than they've put on opposing quarterbacks in their last three games, they'll be looking at a .500 record at the halfway point of the season.
Defensive left end Adewale Ogunleye, the team's leading sacker with 4½, went so far as to say he doesn't think the Bears can win if they don't disrupt Warner.
"My mindset is, if we don't get to Kurt, pressure him (and) sack him, it's going to be a long day," Ogunleye said. "With that said, there's a lot of pressure on our backs, a lot of pressure on my back, to get to Kurt."
In their first four games this season, the Bears had 14 sacks. But, in the last three games, losses to the Falcons and Bengals and a victory over the Browns, the Bears had a grand total of 1 sack.
This week they know the best way to slow down one of the NFL's most explosive offenses is to do to Warner what the Panthers did last week, get after him.
Warner was sacked 2 times and pressured into 5 interceptions and a fumble.
If Warner is allowed time to throw to his talented targets - wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston - the Bears won't be able to contain all of them.
Last season, en route to the Super Bowl, each of Warner's top three targets had more than 1,000 receiving yards. Fitzgerald (47 catches, 509 yards, 5 touchdowns) is well on his way to duplicating that feat this year. But Boldin (35 catches, 404 yards, 1 touchdown) has been slowed by a sprained ankle which kept him out of practice Wednesday and Thursday, although he has vowed to play Sunday. Breaston has picked up the slack with 30 catches, 400 yards and a team-best 13.3 yards per reception.
"They have probably the best receiver in the game," Bears linebacker Lance Briggs said of Fitzgerald. "I love watching both of them play, Anquan and 'Fitz,' and they have Steve Breaston, and they have good backs and they have Kurt Warner. They have the tools. As long as they can protect and get those balls out, those guys will make plays."
Yet the Cardinals have shown a tendency to give the ball away this season, committing 18 turnovers.
"You watch their tape this year, and the people who have had success versus them have done a pretty good job of taking the ball away from them," middle linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer said. "They're an offense that's going to make their plays. They've got too many great players out there. Our goal is to take the ball away, have big plays and try to contain their big ones."
Back in 2004, when Warner was playing for the Giants, he was sacked 4 times in one game by Alex Brown in a 28-21 Bears victory.
"We need the sacks," said Brown, who's second on the Bears with 31/2 sacks. "We need to force the turnovers, we need to get the ball, (get) tipped balls, make him throw the ball sooner than he wants to, stuff like that."
This week, more than ever, it's what's up front that counts for the Bears.
"We've got to create havoc in the passing game," Ogunleye said. "It starts with the defensive line because you can't expect our secondary to cover those guys for long. They're just too good."