When the Saints and Bears face each other at Soldier Field on Sunday, two position units from both teams that have demonstrated vast improvement early into the 2013 season will line up directly against each other when the Bears offensive line squares off against the Saints defensive line.
Consequently the Bears O-line has a strong Saints influence to it, as former Saints offensive line and interim head coach Aaron Kromer is now guiding the big uglies up front in Chicago while former tackle Jermon Bushrod also opted for the Windy City and is now protecting quarterback Jay Cutler's blindside.
The Bears have put up more than thirty points in their last three games, and anybody who has mildly followed DA' Bears over the years, knows that their traditional strength lies on the defensie side of the ball. On the Chicago Bears official website, Cutler credits the offensive line as the main reason for the improved scoring production stating, "I think those five guys up front have to get the majority of the credit for where we are heading right now. They're doing a great job protecting and run blocking. We're throwing alot of stuff at them and I think they've gelled quite nicely so far."
Of course the Saints defensive line does not look anything like their 2012 version under new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. While the defense as a whole has shown much improvement, it is the line to me that seems to stand out the most. Pressure just seems to be coming from both the middle and the outside, and from multiple players, even the reserves.
Third year end Cameron Jordan seems to be on the cusp Cameron Jordan seems to be on the cusp of developing into one of the NFL's elite defensive ends. And when the Saints go on defense for the first time Sunday, I'm sure the afternoon will start off with him going up against someone he battled against in practice many times in Bushrod.
Prior to this season, the best Saints defensive performance I can recall from recent year was their 2011 game against the Chicago Bears in the Superdome in which Cutler was sacked 6 times and suffered 11 quarterback hits during a 30-13 Saints victory. That particular game was a nice slice of revenge against the Bears for the 2006 NFC Championship Game loss and stood out as an exception to what had been a defensive downturn since the 2009 Super Bowl Season. While I am confident the Saints will be 5-0 by 3:25 p.m. CDT Sunday, something tells me that getting to Cutler this time will be a little more challenging.