Bears Defense Banking on Rematch with Jeff Driskel
If Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano sounded a bit skeptical about the reports of an injury to Lions quarterback Jeff Driskel, it's because he is.
The Bears have prepared all along defensively for their Thanksgiving Day game against the Lions under the assumption it would be the mobile Driskel facing them rather than untested third-stringer David Blough. The hamstring injury and practicing on a limited basis, they assume were only so much gamesmanship or at best caution on Detroit's part.
"We're planning on Driskel going," Pagano said. "I think we all understand and know why he made the injury report.
"He played the whole game. Our advanced scouting watched the whole game. They were there. They saw him pregame. They saw him post(game). This, that and the other. ..."
The difference in Driskel the first time the Bears saw him as an emergency replacement for injured Matthew Stafford and now is the Lions seemed to understand better how to use his running ability.
"I think he's really been holding his own," Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara said. "To me, he showed himself as being a starter in this league and deserving of that. And we just can't let him beat us with his feet."
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell uses Driskel more now on zone-read plays. He gained 53 and 61 yards rushing in the two games after scrambling for 37 against the Bears. All three games he played were losses.
They have another running threat to complement Driskel who they didn't have against the Bears last time in Bo Scarbrough, the former Alabama power back who has 153 yards in two losses.
"I mean, with him being from Alabama, Eddie (Jackson) and Ha Ha (Clinton-Dix) were talking about how hard he runs and stuff like that, so we're going to have to bring our big-boy pads with him," Amukamara said.
Scarbrough, who is 6-foot-1, 235 pounds, was a seventh-round draft pick by Dallas last year and was also briefly with Seattle and Jacksonville before landing in Detroit. Last week he powered for 98 yards on 18 attempts against Washington in a 19-16 loss.
The Bears had trouble last year against Detroit on Thanksgiving when the Lions pounded aging 6-foot, 247-pound LaGarrette Blount at them for 88 yards. They can anticipate something similar from Scarbrough.
"You better wrap up if you tackle him," linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski said.
The biggest problem for the Bears defense is Driskel and Scarbrough as runners distract from the main task of stopping receivers Marvin Jones Jr. and Kenny Golladay.
If they can run, the Lions can force man-to-man coverage for Jones and Golladay and won't be afraid to throw deep.
"But these are two dynamic guys," Pagano said. "I think being on the road and playing indoors and those types of things, it's going to be a little different (than the first game).
"I know they're going to take a bunch of shots down the field to those guys."
That's regardless of whether it's Driskel or Blough throwing to them.