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Protection is Key to Beating the Saints

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If the Bears want to beat New Orleans this weekend, they will have to keep Jay Cutler upright and hold onto the football. Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images.
If the Bears want to beat New Orleans this weekend, they will have to keep Jay Cutler upright and hold onto the football. Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images.

In order for the Chicago Bears to bounce back against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, they will have to protect more than their home field. Their quarterback, the ball and the end zone all must be defended on nearly every down for the Bears to hand the Saints their first loss of the season.

New Orleans has returned to its 2009 form of forcing turnovers and scoring touchdowns. Those two elements of their game plan are synergistic and reliant on each other. If the Saints' offense doesn't score touchdowns, the defense isn't able to play the high risk high reward style it is best at. If the defense doesn't force turnovers, the offense can't take the high volume of downfield shots that a sudden change of possession allows for. The Saints are like an electrical circuit. A loss of power on one side will black out the whole thing.

Forcing New Orleans to settle for field goals is easier said than done. Chicago's is a defense that is also predicated on turning the ball over, which may prove difficult against Drew Brees. The Bears need to adjust and play more of a bend but don't break scheme. Keeping everything in front of them, they should force the Saints to drive the length of the field. Nothing cheap and easy is the mantra.

If the Bears can limit the Saints' trips into the end zone, then they must do two things on offense: protect Jay Cutler and hold on to the football.  The most effective way to contain Jimmy Graham is to keep him on the New Orleans' sideline. Turning the ball over four times like Chicago did last week at Detroit simply cannot be repeated.

In the interest of dominating the time of possession and eliminating turnovers, Cutler must be kept unfettered by the Saints' pass rush. Giving Culter plenty of time to go through his reads and find the best option along with giving Brandon Marshall time to create separation will throw the pressure back on the New Orleans defense. 

A further benefit to keeping the ball and Cutler safe will be that will open the door for the Bears to expose the Saints' hidden weakness: run defense. New Orleans is the worst in the league in yards allowed per rush with 5.5 yards given up per carry. The reason why it hasn't been an issue thus far is because their opponents have had to throw the ball to try and play catch up. Chicago avoiding that situation will give Matt Forte huge 

The only way for the Bears to beat the Saints is to force New Orleans to adjust to what they are doing. Chicago cannot beat the Saints at their own game. The key to making New Orleans play Chicago's game is protection.