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Sad-sack statistics an issue for Bears
By Bob LeGere | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 10/30/2009 12:02 AM

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Bob LeGere's picks

Sunday's games

-13 BEARS 24, Browns 13

+31/2 Broncos 23, RAVENS 20

+31/2 BILLS 19, Texans 17

+3 Vikings 31, PACKERS 27

-12 COLTS 30, 49ers 21

-3 JETS 23, Dolphins 16

off Rams 24, LIONS 20

-91/2 COWBOYS 24, Seahawks 19

-161/2 CHARGERS 33, Raiders 13

-3 TITANS 21, Jaguars 14

-10 *CARDINALS 34, Panthers 10

+1 Giants 33, EAGLES 27

Monday's game

-10 SAINTS 31, Falcons 24

* Best bet

Home teams in ALL CAPS

Last week

Straight up: 9-4

Vs. the spread: 7-5-1

Best bet: 0-1

Season total

Straight up: 69-34

Vs. the spread: 55-47-1

Best bet: 4-3

After getting 14 sacks in the first four games, the Bears have not gotten to the quarterback in the past two games, dropping from No. 4 to No. 17 in sack percentage.

"Whenever you don't get sacks you have to give them some credit," Bears coach Lovie Smith said of the Atlanta and Cincinnati offensive lines. "We have gotten a lot more maximum protection, but that's a part of life.

"We just need to do a better job getting pressure. I feel like we can do some things to help them out a little bit, but it starts up front for us, as far as making our defense click."

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan finished the 21-14 victory Oct. 18 with a clean uniform after having barely been touched by the Bears. The lack of pressure was even more noticeable in Sunday's 45-10 loss to the Bengals.

"They didn't play well, just like our team didn't play well," Smith said of the D-line. "I've been pleased with their play before that."

Even against Atlanta?

"We held Atlanta down pretty good, except for a couple plays, so I feel pretty good with what our defensive line has been doing overall," Smith said, noting that Atlanta managed just 253 total yards.

"Let's not make this any bigger (than it is). None of us did what we were supposed to do (last Sunday), defensive line included. But we have a good group on our defensive line, and we all will play better this week."

Nose tackle Anthony Adams' position isn't expected to generate significant sack numbers - he has 1 so far this season - but he said getting pressure on the quarterback is the responsibility of everyone on the line.

If the line fails, there's a good chance the secondary will have a rough day, as it did in Cincinnati, allowing Carson Palmer to complete 20 of 24 passes for 5 touchdowns and an almost-perfect passer rating of 146.7.

"We always want to get to the quarterback and help the defensive backfield any way we can," Adams said. "It's definitely an emphasis, (so) to not get any in two games is disheartening.

"It makes you want to rush harder every play, and that's what we're going to do Sunday."

The Bears' two leading sackers, defensive ends Adewale Ogunleye (41/2) and Alex Brown (21/2), have almost disappeared after impressive starts.

Brown has been held without a sack in three of the last four games, and Ogunleye hasn't gotten to a quarterback in four of the last five games.

At times, opponents have max protected to give quarterbacks extra time, and the Bears have blitzed less often in the past two weeks than they did earlier in the season.

"If you talk to (defensive line) coach (Rod) Marinelli, it's, 'No explanations and no excuses,' so I'll give none," Ogunleye said. "But they have been doing a little more tight ends in and max protecting. But we knew that was going to happen.

"When that happens, that means there are fewer guys out in pass routes, so we should be doing a little better job in the back end (secondary).

"There's a give and take when it comes to defense. We've got to do a better job of adjusting when stuff like that happens."

Brown said opponents adjusted their schemes because of the Bears' early-season success rushing the quarterback.

"During the season, teams tend to watch film and try to take away stuff," he said. "Now we have to figure out how to continue putting pressure on the quarterback. That's our job, and we expect to get pressure on the quarterback this week."

Despite Cleveland's 1-6 record, Brown says its offensive line isn't a weakness.

"This offensive line is probably the best we've played," he said. "Their record doesn't say how good the offensive line is. Their left tackle (Joe Thomas) is top three in the league."

But Browns quarterbacks Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn have been sacked 18 times, 25th in the league. So the Bears have a chance to regain their knack for the sack.