Bears’ defense hopes to crack open a good rook
BY JOE COWLEY email@example.com September 7, 2012 11:26PM
No. 1 draft pick Andrew Luck was impressive in the preseason. | Andy Lyons~Getty Images
Updated: October 9, 2012 3:06PM
There wasn’t a big enough umbrella to keep the showers of praise from pelting quarterback Andrew Luck before the Indianapolis Colts made him the first pick of the 2012 NFL draft.
Fox TV analyst and former Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick was one of the louder voices, writing on his blog that Luck was the “best quarterback prospect since John Elway’’ and insisting that Luck’s talent was “as clean as any college quarterback has been in years.’’
As far as the Bears are concerned, Sunday would be a good time to start dirtying the rook up a bit.
“You get excited when you play a rookie quarterback, a first-round draft pick,
No. 1 draft pick and an atmosphere like that where we’re playing at home,’’ Bears cornerback Tim Jennings said. “We’re not going to try and do anything different. We’re just going to try and get up on him, play Bear football.’’
And hope Bear football is something Luck isn’t prepared for.
“I think, one, they are historically great,’’ Luck said of the Bears. “Got All-Stars all over the field. I expect them to be good, to be fast, be physical, give me, give all the guys a great challenge. What a great way to kick things off, with a great challenge. It will be tough sledding to get yards, to get points. I couldn’t be more excited.’’
“Excited’’ might be his emotion before kickoff. Frustrated is how the Bears hope his afternoon ends.
There isn’t a defense Luck didn’t see running a pro-style offense at Stanford the last two seasons. Make that a college defense he didn’t see.
Does he know where the holes are in the cover-2 defense the Bears run? Certainly. But this is the NFL, where big windows on Saturdays become crevices on Sundays. Luck will see nothing exotic, no special blitz packages. Now, try to jam the football in there. The Bears will dare him.
“I don’t know if our defense is really one that’s based on confusion and misdirection,’’ Israel Idonije said. “Pretty much you know what we’re going to do. We’re about assignment, effort, running to the ball and being physical. That’s what this defense is built on. I don’t think we’re really looking to confuse or give any type of misdirection. We’re going to go and play hard, one-on-one, helmet-on-helmet football.’’
There wasn’t much to make Luck flinch in the preseason. His first NFL pass went for a touchdown, and he finished exhibition play 41-for-66 for 522 yards with three touchdown passes, a rushing touchdown and two interceptions.
“I think the preseason helps a lot, just to feel a little bit about the speed of the game,’’ Luck said. “I understand that I’m sure it will be picked up another notch because of the regular season, but to be in there in a pocket with live rushers and be able to say, ‘OK, this is how big NFL guys are, this is how strong they are …’ So the preseason has helped a lot.’’
His solid preseason also brought Luck even more attention.
“I watched the [Colts-Redskins preseason] game,’’ Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said. “Luck’s going to be successful. There’s too many things going his way. He works hard. He’s in an organization that’s going to build around him. They’ve got the blueprint already with [former Colts quarterback] Peyton [Manning]. So they’re going to do everything possible to make him successful, and with his work ethic and his ability to play on the field, he’ll be fine.’’
But will he be “can’t miss?’’
Sunday is just the first test. No small one at that.