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Blog Entry

The real key to Bears-Dolphins matchup

Posted on: November 18, 2010 2:36 pm
 
Posted by Andy Benoit
C. Wake (US Presswire)
Everyone is talking about Julius Peppers facing Jake Long and his injured left shoulder Thursday night, but the more significant pass-rushing matchup in this game will be on the other side of the action. Miami’s Cameron Wake has blossomed into one of the premier defensive forces in the NFL. The ex-Canadian League superstar leads the AFC with 8.5 sacks on the season and, for the most part, he’s been stout against the run.

Wake’s supple athleticism is buttressed by good initial quickness and underrated strength. Neither Bear offensive tackle – Franks Omiyale or seventh-round rookie J’Marcus Webb – has a prayer at blocking him one-on-one. But if Chicago can find away to contain Wake through chips and tight end double teams, there will be at least four or five big plays on the table for Jay Cutler.

Reason being, the callow Dolphins secondary has proved to be erratic in diagnosing route combinations. No. 2 cornerback Sean Smith has looked particularly vulnerable (which is partly why he was benched at one point this season), and second-year free safety Chris Clemons is not yet consistent enough to constantly pick up the slack (plus Clemons is better near the box than in centerfield). When given time to develop, Chicago’s complex route combinations are some of the most aggressive and effective in the game.

For any time facing the Bears, it’s crucial to get pressure on Cutler. For the Dolphins, it’s vital.

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