Bears getting defensive about sack production

Updated: November 5, 2003, 8:15 PM ET
ESPN

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- It's midway through the season, and Carolina defensive end Mike Rucker already has 10 sacks. Tampa Bay's Simeon Rice has nine. Ditto for Michael Strahan of the New York Giants.

As for the Chicago Bears, well, they have six -- all told. Eight games, six sacks. There were Bears teams in the past that had six sacks in a single game.

But if the Bears (3-5) are concerned, they're doing their best not to show it.

"If sacks were important, that's what they would use to determine a football game," testy defensive coordinator Greg Blache said Wednesday. "Points are important. If sacks were important they'd use that as a deciding factor to who wins and who loses. And they don't."

No, but sacks are a sure intimidation factor. Slam a quarterback into the ground a few times, and opponents start thinking they have to do something different.

Maybe the quarterback starts rushing his throws. Maybe he starts making bad decisions because he's flustered. Maybe the offense decides to run the ball more. Whatever, it takes opponents out of their game plan.

"We're going to have our opportunities down the road," defensive end Phillip Daniels said. "We'll just get better and try to improve the stat."

Chicago's pass rush was bound to be an issue when Rosevelt Colvin, the team's sack leader the last two seasons, went to New England as a free agent. But the Bears say the bigger problem is that teams were running on them early in the season.

Make that running all over them. Chicago is allowing nearly 136 yards rushing per game, 29th in the league. And that's after holding both the Lions and Chargers to fewer than 90 yards rushing in the last two games.

The Bears play the Lions (2-6) again Sunday.

"If we can't stop the run, then who cares about a pass rush because nobody's going to pass the ball," end Alex Brown said. "If you can't stop the run, I'll just run it all day. ... We have to stop the run. That's what keys this defense. We have to stop the run and, after that, we'll get after the passer."

But even with better run defense, the Bears still aren't getting sacks. Spanning those games against the Lions and Chargers, they had one sack.

They almost had San Diego's Drew Brees for another on a third-and-long, but he scrambled away. Brees actually got a throw off, too, but Reche Caldwell dropped the ball when R.W. McQuarters slammed into him.

That might not have been a sack, Daniels said, but the result was just as effective because the Chargers were forced to punt.

"If we keep getting pressure on them and they keep throwing the ball away rather of giving us the sack, then hey, keep throwing it," he said. "We'll take that."

Yes, but these are the Bears. You know, Monsters of the Midway. Hampton. Dent. Singletary. Butkus. They're supposed to hit people. Hard. Not chase a quarterback around the field until he throws the ball away.

The way the Bears are going, they're on pace to finish the season with 12 sacks. Colvin had 10{ by himself each of the last two years.

Since the NFL started keeping track of sacks in 1982, the Bears have never finished a season with fewer than 28 sacks. In 1987, they had 70.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index