Halftime Adjustments: Don't let up

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Chicago Bears seized a 21-6 lead at intermission Sunday over the Arizona Cardinals, and appear poised to finally put a stop to the slide threatening their season.

Granted the opponent is a hapless Cardinals squad, but the Bears flashed a portion of their typical formula for success: takeaways (Zack Bowman's fumble recovery for a touchdown in the first quarter) on defense, and efficiency with the rushing attack (Matt Forte scored a touchdown, and averaged 7.7 yards per attempt).

Predictably, though, the Bears' passing attack mostly short-circuited in the first half. That facet of the game involved only Jay Cutler and receiver Brandon Marshall for the majority of the half, before the quarterback finally completed a pass at the 1:45 mark of the second half to Alshon Jeffery, followed by another completion to Earl Bennett. Cutler didn't complete his second pass of the contest until the 2-minute warning, after starting the game 1 of 11 for 30 yards.

Cutler closed the half with five consecutive completions and capped a six-play, 80-yard drive with an 11-yard scoring strike to Marshall with 19 seconds remaining.

Let's look at how the Bears might attack in the second half.


With approximately two minutes remaining in the first quarter, the Cardinals announced cornerback Patrick Peterson suffered a right knee contusion, and was questionable to return to action. Peterson came into the game, and Cutler quickly recognized it and hit Brandon Marshall for a 30-yard gain. Peterson has been tasked with covering Marshall, and even if he's healthy in the second half, that job gets more difficult if the corner isn't 100 percent on that knee, especially after a brief break at halftime, which will probably cause that knee to stiffen.

Given the 30-yard grab by Marshall to ignite Chicago's five-play scoring drive in early in the second quarter, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Cardinals try more double teams on Marshall. They kept a safety over the top of Marshall with Peterson playing man underneath, and enjoyed some success early on.

Marshall finished the first half with three catches for 48 yards and a touchdown.


The Bears dramatically increased their chances of winning this game at the 9:01 mark of the first quarter when Bowman recovered a Beanie Wells fumble in the end zone for a touchdown. Since 2005, the Bears are 20-2 in games they've scored a defensive touchdown, including a 5-0 record under those circumstances so far this season.

Since 2004, the Bears have scored 32 touchdowns on defense, 25 from INT returns and eight from fumble returns. The Bears are 23-5 since then in games they've scored a defensive touchdown.

Given the likelihood of more game-changing mistakes from Arizona's floundering offense, not to mention their own struggles on that side of the ball, the Bears need to generate even more takeaways to increase the likelihood of winning.


Julius Peppers sacked Ryan Lindley for a 10-yard loss in the first quarter, but the Bears haven't applied enough heat thus far. Chicago typically shies away from bringing more than the standard four-man rush, and that's perfectly fine. But the Bears need their front four to put Lindley in some difficult situations.

Coming into Sunday's game, Lindley, a rookie, had completed 72 of 141 passes for 611 yards with no touchdowns and 6 interceptions.

Not only is he inexperienced, clearly Lindley is prone to mistakes. By pressuring him, the Bears can increase the occurrences of such mishaps.

Israel Idonije dropped Lindley for a 5-yard loss with 6:06 left in the first half.

But as it stands now, Lindley has been too comfortable in the pocket. He completed 8 of 11 in the first quarter for 73 yards and a passer rating of 90.3 and finished the first half with a passer rating of 73.7. Even a rookie can light it up when he's got all day to scan the field and throw. The Bears need to change that.