Four Downs: Keys to beating the Steelers (09/22/13)

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A look at four keys for the Bears to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Using Marc Trestman's lingo, it usually takes a "village" to bring down Big Ben.
Using Marc Trestman’s lingo, it usually takes a “village” to bring down Big Ben.

1. Increase pressure on Ben Roethlisberger

The Bears are 2-0 and it feels great and a football fan should accept wins as they come, no matter how “ugly” they might have been. But there is also room to improve after every single game, and the Bears have some issues they need to work out. Perhaps the most important of which is the improvement of the pass rush from the defensive line. The Bears have just two sacks through the first two weeks, which ranks them 26th in the league. That’s not exactly a huge sample size to base conclusions on, but the eye test the past two weeks clearly shows that they’re not getting enough pressure on the quarterback. This week they face a solid veteran in Roethlisberger who has the capability to burn them all game if given even part of the extra time they gave the Bengals’ Andy Dalton and the Vikings’ Christian Ponder in the first two weeks. One other reason for increasing pressure on the quarterback is that Roethlisberger — at about 240 pounds — is notoriously one of the most difficult quarterbacks to bring down. It often takes more than one defender to sack him and he can still make plays with defenders hanging on him. Julius Peppers was sick against the Vikings and he has yet to show any kind of imposing presence through two games. He needs to step it up this week.

2. Get the ball out quickly

The Steelers are tied for last with only one defensive sack on the season, so the Bears aren’t exactly facing a juggernaut here. But it is a road game and it makes it more difficult for the offensive line in a hostile environment to remain cohesive. The line has done a great job of protecting Cutler this season so far. One of the ways that head coach Marc Trestman can help out his line is by calling more plays that allow Cutler to get rid of the ball quickly. Matt Forte had 11 receptions last week against the Vikings and if it takes another performance like that to help the Bears keep Cutler up right and win this game, so be it.

3. Limit mistakes/turnovers on the road

The Bears made a host of mistakes last week against the Vikings including two Cutler interceptions, a Cutler fumble returned for a touchdown, a Forte fumble, and allowing the Vikings to return the opening kickoff for a touchdown. That kind of performance on the road can be deadly and almost guarantee a loss. The Steelers may be 0-2, but they’re not as bad as one might think. They’ll turn up the heat on defense and try to force the Bears in to as many turnovers as they can.

4. Win the battle of field position

Last week, Devin Hester proved that neither he nor the kickoff return position are obsolete yet as he set a Bears single-game record with 249 kickoff return yards against the Vikings. That kind of performance changes games, and it certainly had its effect on salvaging a victory for the Bears. Teams are now going to see that game tape and take notice and you might start to see kickers kick away from Hester, thus creating good field position. There will still be plenty of touchbacks, but it’s at the kicker’s own peril if he can’t kick it through the end zone. In the past, Hester has provided Bears offenses with great field position and they often haven’t had much luck converting that to points. This year’s offense is different. They have the ability to put up points. Also, it’s important that Adam Podlesh, Robbie Gould and the coverage units on special teams are on top of their game. If they can’t score points, it’s important to pin the Steelers’ deep in their own end of the field and make them go the length of the field to score.

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