If the Chicago Bears want any chance at beating the Pittsburgh Steelers the linebackers will have to step up against the run
The Chicago Bears linebacker corps has become an issue, there is no doubt about it. Jerrell Freeman was deemed out for the year after week one with a pectoral tear. His back up, Nick Kwiatoski left week two early with a pectoral injury as well. It left the Bears with Danny Trevathan, who is still less than 12 months removed from a patellar tendon tear and third-string middle linebacker Christian Jones. This duo did not have a strong day trying to stop Jacquizz Rodgers and an average on paper rushing attack.
By the time Rodgers has the ball the Bucs have players at the second level locking down Trevathan and Jones. Rodgers has holes to pick from and is in a situation to get into the second level untouched.
Again, the offensive line is giving Rodgers the chance to pick and choose his holes. Jones is already tied up with an offensive lineman way off of the ball and Trevathan is staring down a fullback in the Oklahoma drill. Rodgers essentially just has to choose whether he wants to try to get past Quintin Demps or Eddie Jackson.
By the time Rodgers touches the football Trevathan has been cleared from the right side to the left, making a big hole for Rodgers. Trevathan is on his way to the ground at this moment. Jones, once again is getting locked up in the second level.
Some could see this and say that the defensive line is not doing their job of occupying these linemen. However, these linebackers are being too slow. Getting met at the second level rather than stepping in and sticking your helmet into the trenches, or getting cleared out of the way before the running back even has the ball is an indictment of slow movement and reaction.
If this looks exposable against the Buccaneers line, Le’Veon Bell and his sturdy front is going to have a field day. These two linebackers will really have to bring their A-game if they want to remain competitive.