For years the popular maxim has been that NFL franchises are only as strong their coach/quarterback combination. But with rules “evolving” yearly to aid the passing game a third pillar has firmly emerged as equal to the aforementioned pair: pass rusher. Watching the conference championship games on Sunday reaffirmed this.
And pass rush, despite what people will have you believe, is not necessarily a quantifiable statistic. Sacks are great but pressuring a quarterback into a poorly timed throw can often be far better. Sustained pressure throughout a game is a recipe for success but intense pressure in the fourth quarter, with the game on the line, is a recipe for championships.
Pass rushers, much like quarterbacks, must raise their games in the pivotal moments.
And pressure needs to come from pass rushers NOT from scheme. Rex Ryan has proven over the years that all the complicated blitz packages on earth don’t guarantee success getting to the quarterback and, quite to the contrary, leave your secondary vulnerable in multiple areas. If your team doesn’t have 2-3 players in the front seven with the ability to get to the quarterback then chances are your team is a bottom half of the league defensive unit.
This is why I disagree so firmly with the results of yesterday’s poll. Do the Bears have enough talent at inside linebacker? Of course not. But unless you find one of the elite players at the position most inside backers these days are not game changers. The Bears need more explosiveness. They need more pass rush. And if you believe the combination of McPhee/Young/Houston are capable of being a steady rotation at outside linebacker, the Bears need to find that pressure from the defensive line.