Pressure the quarterback. One of the “keys” to just about every NFL game and obviously the case for the Bears going against Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts.
But as of the close of practice Friday, of the seven Bears credited with all or part of a sack in 2016 — and the Bears have just six total sacks, only five teams have fewer — four of them were unable to go through a full practice: Leonard Floyd, Eddie Goldman, Danny Trevathan, Willie Young. Floyd (calf) did not practice Wednesday or Thursday and Goldman is down with a high-ankle sprain, and neither are expected to play. Trevathan is listed as questionable but is playing with a hard plastic guard on his surgically repaired thumb and his effectiveness remains to be seen.
With Goldman and Trevathan out against the Lions and Floyd down for most of the second half, coordinator Vic Fangio used a veritable swarm of defensive backs against Matthew Stafford rather than weaken his back-seven trying to force a pass rush.
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The Colts have lost the three games this season in which Luck was forced to throw 40 or more times. The Lions, Broncos and Jaguars defeated the Colts in part by sacking Luck a combined 13 times — he’s been sacked a league-high 15 times through four games — although the Lions pulled out their win by virtue of an Indianapolis defensive collapse that allowed Stafford to move the Lions into winning-field-goal range in three plays in the closing seconds.
The question for the Bears is how much their game planning is affected by simply not having enough healthy pass rushers to pursue a big quarterback.
“It does a little bit,” Bears head coach John Fox said. “You have to be ready for a lot of different things as far as other positions being ready, whether you need to pressure a little bit more if it’s not coming home with your typical four-man rush. So this game is about adjusting. It’s no different this week than any week prior.”