Seattle’s primary concern in Chicago is really more of a secondary matter.
The Seahawks’ secondary, to be more precise, because the Bears have a strong-armed quarterback and an offensive coordinator in Mike Martz whose game plans are known for their long-range ambition.
The Seahawks have a defense that is hemorrhaging passing yardage for a third consecutive season, and it returns after a week off knowing it must find a way to stop the bleeding.
“We’re giving up too many yards,” said Gus Bradley, Seattle’s defensive coordinator. “There’s no doubt about that.”
Seattle’s defense is a dichotomy this season with the Seahawks allowing the second-fewest rushing yards per game, but the second-most passing yards.
It’s not exactly a new problem. Seattle allowed the third-most passing yards in the league last season, and that was actually an improvement. The Seahawks gave up the most in 2008.
That’s a sample size of three seasons under three head coaches with the same bloated numbers against Seattle’s secondary.
Someone check Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler: Is his mouth watering?
Considered one of the top young quarterbacks in the league when he passed for more than 4,500 yards in Denver in 2008, he has toned down the interceptions after being picked off a league-high 26 times last season. Cutler has been intercepted three times, and only San Diego’s Philip Rivers is averaging more yards per completion.
“Cutler is really something now,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s come out smoking.”
Cutler missed the game last week with a concussion but returned to practice Wednesday. He has one of the strongest arms in the league, and he plays in an offense that Martz has designed to look downfield.
“This is a volatile offense with a guy with that kind of gun back there,” Carroll said.
Johnny Knox and Devin Hester are Chicago’s starting receivers, two of the league’s fastest at that position, which puts the onus on Seattle’s defensive backs.
“They do run a lot of deeper routes,” cornerback Kelly Jennings said. “We are going to have to cover longer, which on the other side gives our D-line a good chance to get to the quarterback.”
That’s a key. Two weeks ago, the New York Giants teed off on Cutler, sacking him a league-record nine times in the first half alone.
In the first four games this season, Seattle has shown a propensity to blitz.
San Diego ran 78 offensive plays against the Seahawks three weeks ago, and Seattle dispatched an extra pass rusher on more than 40 of those plays.