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Bears deal Allen as he doesn’t fit in 3-4

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. – The Chicago Bears continue to shuffle the deck defensively while looking for a winning combination, and think they’re finally on to something.

In fact, despite being 0-3 after a 26-0 loss to Seattle, they’re so confident that they believed they could deal linebacker Jared Allen.

Allen seemed out of place at linebacker since the move to a 3-4 linebacker from defensive end, and the Bears had a surplus of linebackers converted from 4-3 end. So Allen was sent Monday to the Carolina Panthers, where he’ll be back at his old end position in the 4-3 after he was traded for a sixth-round draft pick following the Bears loss to Seattle.

Allen had minimal impact as a linebacker, making an interception on a pass he deflected, and totaling five tackles this season but no sacks. Allen was on the field for 30 plays Sunday at Seattle with half a sack.

Linebacker Sam Acho had a strong game Sunday and both Lamarr Houston and Willie Young play the position, as well. Young was officially inactive for Sunday’s game, but displayed more pass-rush ability at linebacker as his injured Achilles began to heal.

Allen had 5.5 sacks in his 18 games for Chicago.

General manager Ryan Pace pointed to depth at pass rusher as the reason for the move. If they hadn’t recorded four sacks against Seattle and still had none for the year, this might have been more difficult to sell.

“We had some depth at the linebacker position and were able to reach an agreement with the Panthers to bring a 2016 draft pick to our team in exchange for Jared Allen,” Pace said. “Whether it is acquiring additional picks or signing players, we will continue to be aggressive in finding ways to improve our football team.

“We appreciate Jared’s contributions and wish him the best in Carolina.”

Just a little over a week ago Allen was reminiscing about when he could rush out of the three-point stance rather than standing up.”

To be honest, I love the 3-point stance,” he said. “I feel at home with my hand in the grass.”

Then he started to joke about it.

“It’s nostalgic – I start misting up and I’m late off the ball,” he said. “I’ve got to work on that.”

The Bears’ 3-4 had occasionally let Allen play like a down linemen, but normally he was in the two-point stance.

“There are different things and times where the two-point stance is more effective,” Allen said. “It’s crunch time, comes down to third-and-long and I know I’m rushing, I’m probably going to have my hand in the ground and get to it.”

The Bears pass rush looked its best this season on Sunday with the first four sacks, including two by outside linebacker Pernell McPhee and two by defensive end Jarvis Jenkins.

“I thought all-in-all we did a good job of crowding the guy in the rush,” coach John Fox said. “We didn’t have guys running 8 yards by him. We pushed the pocket up inside.

“I thought Jarvis Jenkins had a couple good examples of that. Like everything, you just try to keep improving every week and I saw a bit of improvement in that area. Same thing with the red area and same thing with third down; I’m talking about defensively. So it wasn’t all negative.”

The defense allowed only 23 percent third down conversions against Seattle.

“You could see in some of those plays that we were playing with an attitude, we were playing with a swagger,” McPhee said. “All that goes to show that it’s coming along.”

The interior pass rush complemented the perimeter pass rush well, until the Seahawks began pulling away.

“Some of that dog started coming out,” McPhee said. “That’s that fun part. Jarvis, a guy like me, you know Shea (McClellin), a couple guys, (Adrian) Amos, big Eddie (Goldman), it was a lot of them.

“The whole 11, including the other guys who came off the bench. You could see in some of them plays we were playing with an attitude, we were playing with a swag, and all that goes to show that it’s coming along. The defense is starting to play together.”

REPORT CARD VS. SEAHAWKS

PASSING OFFENSE: F. Jimmy Clausen was kept from throwing it up for grabs by design so they could shorten the game and help their defense. Clausen displayed no arm whatsoever, but there was no one of consequence to throw it to anyway with Alshon Jeffery out injured. The 63 passing yards was their fewest since Nov. 19, 2012 when their current defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and the 49ers held them to 58. Just three catches for 17 yards by wide receivers in this one and the pass blocking broke down entirely late in the game. Tackle Kyle Long gave up a sack for the third straight game. Seven first downs for the game says it all.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B-minus. Matt Forte’s 64 first-half rushing yards were behind a well-executed blocking scheme and kept the Bears in manageable situations. When the running game became less relevant after special teams put them in a two-score hole, Forte gained only 10 more yards. Jacquizz Rodgers continues to show his versatility, picking up a first down early in the game in short yardage. He’s not your prototypical power back for short yardage, but finds the cracks in the defense.

PASS DEFENSE: C. It was the best performance by their pass defense to date as they “held” Russell Wilson to a 101.4 passer rating. The pass rush sacked him four times for the first four sacks of the year, and Pernell McPhee and Jarvis Jenkins in particular enjoyed pass rush success. Cornerbacks Alan Ball and Kyle Fuller enjoyed better days than the previous loss to Arizona, but the Seahawks took advantage of the middle of the field and the lack of a viable Bears nickel back or experienced strong safety. The passing attack was so bad that they might want to consider signing another punter to help out Pat O’Donnell because at 10 punts a game he’s sure to wear out soon.

RUSH DEFENSE: C. Losing nose tackle Will Sutton to an injury left the inside vulnerable in the second half and rookie Eddie Goldman failed to become a plug in the middle. Once the Bears fell behind the Seahawks could run at will. However, when the game was in doubt Seattle had no ability to consistently move the Bears off the ball. The defensive front was led with strong play by Jarvis Jenkins.

SPECIAL TEAMS: F. It’s getting pretty repetitious. A second straight game allowing a kickoff return TD, a 64-yard punt return by Richard Sherman on a trick play the Bears themselves had once used under former coordinator Dave Toub. They used a few more starters on coverage units. Christian Jones got overwhelmed with a block on the TD kickoff return by Tyler Lockett that changed the game.

COACHING: C-minus. Offensive coordinator Adam Gase stuck with the same type of conservative game plan he used against Green Bay and Arizona and for one half it worked, but it was only capable of helping them tread water. At some point, they had to make a move and either didn’t or couldn’t. The use of three tight ends and an unbalanced line kept popping Matt Forte free for clock killing rushing yards early. Vic Fangio’s blitzing scheme looked far more effective and he had the outside linebackers playing smart to keep Wilson in the pocket. The execution looked poor on kickoff and punt returns, but the Bears were easily fooled on a trick punt return TD, which invites the question about how well prepared they were. Special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers might want to consider putting even more starters on kick coverage teams because what they’re doing simply isn’t working.


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