NOTEBOOK: Fairley says Bears O-line "more physical", defending the back-shoulder throw and more

Posted Sep 27, 2013

Lions defenders have taken notice of the Bears' more physical play along the offensive line

The Detroit Lions won't be facing the same inconsistent and unreliable Chicago Bears offensive line they've grown accustomed to facing the last few years.

The offensive line that got Bears quarterbacks sacked 184 times the past four years has been completely revamped.

The Bears went out and got four new starters (two free agents and two rookies) and have allowed just three sacks in three games.

Don't think the Lions defense hasn't taken notice.

"You see it on film that they're more physical," defensive tackle Nick Fairley said. "They stay on double teams more. They've been blocking pretty good.

"Basically, as a front four, it's going to be up to us just to attack and make them play on our terms."

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and the new West Coast Offense he runs has certainly had an impact. The Bears are running a lot of quick three- and five-man drops and delivering the ball quickly to receivers.

"We know going into this game that they're going to be three-step (dropping) a lot and getting the ball out real quick," Fairley said. "As a defensive line, we can't get down on ourselves if we beat a guy and the ball is gone. We have to continue to rush real hard and the one time he's going to hold that ball is the time we have to get there and take him down."

Fairley is going to be one of the keys to the game for the Lions. He's not likely to see as many double-teams as fellow defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and could be poised to have himself quite a day if that sore right shoulder doesn't bother him.

Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said he's been real impressed with the offensive transformation for the Bears so far this season.

"The change now is, you can really see it in the passing game," he said. "Jay is very disciplined in his drops, we call them five quicks, and usually if you drop back as a quarterback, you take five and you have maybe one hitch-up and the ball is out.

"He is getting the ball out, he is delivering it. They have different concepts, they throw the ball horizontally to spread you apart in zones. They have the ability to go deep fast."


When the Bears have needed a play the last two weeks, Cutler has made it with a back-shoulder throw.

It's a play that requires a lot of trust between quarterback and receiver and is one that's nearly impossible to defend when executed correctly.

"The back-shoulder throw has kind of evolved pretty quickly over the last two or three years," Cutler told Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune this week. "Green Bay does it all the time down in the red zone. It seems like that's all they throw. They see (two deep safeties and man coverage underneath) and they're throwing back-shoulder balls. It has come a long way. I've got some good guys on my side that are doing it well."

Cunningham said there is a proper way to defend the play and he's worked on it with his cornerbacks this week, but didn't want to let the cat out of the bag.

"That's a good question, but I'm not going to answer because there are ways to combat it," he said. "It's all fundamental by the corner that has to be taught. We have been working on it because (Cutler) throws them all the time. You have to be really disciplined as a DB (defensive back). There is one thing they can't do and if they do it then it's complete and most corners do what I don't want to talk about."


• Fairley was fined $10,000 for the unnecessary roughness penalty he received in Washington last week

• Fellow defensive tackle C.J. Mosley was fined $7,875 for a close-line tackle in Washington.