Four Downs: Keys to beating the Seahawks (12/02/12)

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The Bears defense can't allow Marshawn Lynch to get into "Beast Mode."
The Bears defense can’t allow Marshawn Lynch to get into “Beast Mode.”

A look at four keys for the Bears to beat the Seattle Seahawks.

1. Protect against “Beast Mode”

The Bears have become familiar with facing some of the top running backs in the NFL as of late, facing Tennessee’s Chris Johnson, Houston’s Arian Foster, San Francisco’s Frank Gore, and Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson — four of the NFL’s Top 9 rushers — in consecutive weeks. Why should this week be any different? The Seattle offense goes as running back Marshawn Lynch goes. Lynch is the NFL’s third-leading rusher, averaging 95.5 rushing yards per game and 4.6 yards per attempt. When Lynch gets all lathered up as the game goes on, he switches into “Beast Mode” where he’s a tough load to bring down. For those of you who remember his late fourth quarter touchdown run against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Wild Card round in January of 2011, you know exactly how the legend of Beast Mode has grown. That run supposedly caused a small earthquake due to the noise of Seattle’s “12th Man,” their crowd. In short, Lynch is a beast to take down and the Bears will have to focus their attention on stopping him.

2. Max protect

Does anybody remember Seattle’s Week 3 upset victory over the Packers? No, I’m not bringing up the controversial ending in which the replacement officials botched the game-ending interception/touchdown call that gave the Seahawks the win. I’m referring to the eight — count ’em: 8 — first half sacks that the Seahawks defense registered against Aaron Rodgers. The Packers have a shaky offensive line, but it’s not nearly as bad as the Bears’ line has been this year. Seattle is 9th in the league in sacks and I have bad visions of Cutler getting pummeled this week, especially behind a line that is in flux and has a lot of moving parts due to injuries to guards Lance Louis and Chris Spencer. The Bears have to do everything they can scheme-wise in order to keep Cutler upright and make sure he doesn’t suffer another concussion.

3. Replicate game plan against Vikings

One way to keep the Seattle pass rush off of Cutler is to replicate the game plan the Bears ran against the Vikings. The Bears rushed the ball 39 times against Minnesota and when Cutler did drop back to pass, it was usually in short drops and in quick passes over the short middle of the field to Brandon Marshall. There were some plays where Cutler also bought time by moving around the pocket and credit is due the line, which did a good job of protecting him against a solid pass rush. Not only is running the ball a smart way to keep the pressure off Cutler, but it’s also a good way to neutralize perhaps one of the best secondaries in the NFL.

4. Keep the pressure on Russell Wilson

The Seahawks’ rookie quarterback is having a decent and efficient season with a 93.9 passer rating (ranked 12th) and just eight interceptions compared to 17 touchdowns. But the offense goes through Lynch and if the Bears can apply pressure in the face of Wilson, it’ll keep the young signal caller guessing. What the Bears did last week to another young quarterback — Minnesota’s Christian Ponder — is that they took the Vikings’ run game out of the equation by jumping out to an early lead. When that happened, Ponder buckled under the pressure of having to carry the offense and it was smooth sailing in the second half. The same thing can be done this week to Wilson if the Bears can get an early edge.

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