Bears pass rush must rebound from quiet effort vs. Rams

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Bears linebacker Robert Quinn was credited with a half sack in Sunday's loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

    Bears linebacker Robert Quinn was credited with a half sack in Sunday's loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Associated Press

 
By Sean Hammond
shammond@shawmedia.com
Updated 9/17/2021 10:04 AM

For a defense to be successful in the NFL, each piece has to be working together. A decent pass rush is wasted if the coverage is bad, and good coverage can only hold on so long without a quality pass rush.

In Sunday's loss to the Los Angeles Rams, the Bears didn't have much of either.

 

The broken coverages in the secondary were the glaring issue. But pass rushers like Khalil Mack, Robert Quinn, Akiem Hicks and Bilal Nichols had quiet nights, too.

"Pass rush is a function of rush and coverage," Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai said. "And it's all about timing. From my end, we've got to do a better job of trying to get (the pass rush) going. And from a coverage perspective and a schematic perspective, we've got to be tighter."

The Bears failed to sack the quarterback and recorded four total QB hits -- two for Quinn and two for Hicks. Mack's name wasn't in the stat sheet until he assisted a tackle midway through the fourth quarter. Nichols also had just one assisted tackle.

Desai said the film session with his defense earlier this week was brutally honest. Desai might be in his first year as a defensive coordinator, but he has coached with the Bears since 2013. He has seen his fair share of ups and downs.

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"We address it in a very direct, matter-of-fact way," Desai said. "And we address it from a teaching and learning perspective that we all have to improve on those processes, from a teaching perspective as coaches and myself, and a learning perspective as players."

Nichols said the defensive line has a lot to correct. He put a lot of the blame on himself.

"Just the lack of technique, from a personal standpoint," Nichols said. "I feel like I could've played better from a technique standpoint and I'm quite sure a lot of people probably feel like that. But that's why you have 17 opportunities."

If nose tackle Eddie Goldman can return to the field healthy, that might change the equation for the defensive line. Goldman, who is battling a knee injury, returned to practice in a limited role Wednesday, but then was absent again Thursday. His status appears to be up in the air again after sitting out the Week 1 game.

Should Goldman be healthy enough to play, he would add a top-end talent to the defensive line. Goldman was a Pro Bowl alternate the last time he played in 2019. By not placing him on injured reserve -- which requires a three-week absence -- the Bears indicated they were hopeful his knee injury isn't serious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"He would provide a great boost," Nichols said. "Just a player of his caliber. I say it time and time again: in my opinion, he's the best at his position in football. Just having a player like that, it's always going to give you a boost. Being able to see him back out on the field after such a long time, generally, you would be happy for him as a teammate."

But there's little guarantee Goldman will be back.

On the positive side, the Cincinnati Bengals really struggled to protect quarterback Joe Burrow against Minnesota last week. The Vikings sacked Burrow five times. They totaled seven QB hits.

If there was ever a team to rebound against, this might be it. The Bears will see the Bengals at noon on Sunday at Soldier Field.

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