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SmashMouth 10-02-2013 11:43 AM

Saints wary of Bears’ knack for takeaways
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New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton has moved on from the 38-17 thrashing his team dealt to the Miami Dolphins to improve to 4-0 on Monday night.

His new fixation: protecting the football against a Chicago Bears defense that has taken it away from opponents more than anyone else in the NFL has.

The 3-1 Bears’ 14 takeaways are tops in the league as they prepare to host the Saints at Soldier Field at noon Sunday. It appears Chicago picked up right where it left off in 2012, when the Bears — under former coach Lovie Smith — led the NFL with 44 takeaways.

That helped the Bears finish with a solid 10-6 record, but they didn’t qualify for the playoffs, resulting in Smith’s firing. The Bears replaced Smith with Marc Trestman, who had been coaching in the Canadian Football League the previous four years.

Anyone hoping the Bears’ knack for creating turnovers would dissipate during the transition from Smith to Trestman was in store for disappointment. Chicago has won three of its first four games this year by intercepting quarterbacks six times and recovering eight of the 10 fumbles its defense has caused.

“They take the ball away better than anyone,” Payton said about the Bears on Tuesday. “It’s a credit to (Trestman) and those guys on defense.”

Eight Bears players have caused fumbles, led by seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs, safety Major Wright and Pro Bowl cornerback Tim Jennings, who each have forced two. Six players have recovered fumbles: defensive end Corey Wootton (two), linebacker James Anderson, Jennings, eight-time Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers (for a touchdown), defensive end Shea McClellin, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Henry Melton and linebacker Blake Costanzo.

Two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman and Wright lead the Bears with two interceptions each (Wright returned one of his for a touchdown). Jennings and safety Chris Conte each have one interception (Jennings returned his for a score).

The Bears’ three defensive touchdowns are the most in the league, and they’re one of the reasons why Chicago opened the season with wins over Cincinnati (2-2), against Minnesota (1-3) and at Pittsburgh (0-4) before losing at Detroit (3-1) in Week 4.

“It’s something that doesn’t happen by accident,” Payton said about the Bears, to whom he’s lost the three times he’s gone to Soldier Field since taking charge in New Orleans in 2006. “To have the numbers they’ve had, it’s something that’s obviously emphasized and worked on.”

Payton singled out Tillman as a player to be wary of. Tillman is perhaps the best ball-stripper in the NFL — the 11th-year player has forced an astounding 40 fumbles, a quarter of which were in 2012, according to the Bears. He has one this year.

“There’s a skill set involved in that,” Payton said. “There’s a simple effort involved in that, kind of a want-to.”

The good news for the Saints is that their players on offense have done a good job of shielding the football through four games. The Saints surrendered their first fumble Monday night, when running back Darren Sproles was dispossessed at the end of a game in which he scored two touchdowns and accounted for 222 all-purpose yards.

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Rugby Saint II 10-02-2013 02:05 PM

Re: Saints wary of Bears’ knack for takeaways
Whoever is the most opportunistic will win the game. Ball safety gentlemen is our highest priority.

homerj07 10-02-2013 06:04 PM

Re: Saints wary of Bears’ knack for takeaways
Hard game for both teams. If we can run the ball even a little better it will take some pressure off Drew.

hagan714 10-02-2013 07:41 PM

Re: Saints wary of Bears’ knack for takeaways
they always win the turnover wars at years end.

st thomas 10-02-2013 09:34 PM

Re: Saints wary of Bears’ knack for takeaways
tillman will allow u the catch the ball then strip it when ur just think u made a pretty catch, be wary offense.

jeanpierre 10-02-2013 10:32 PM

Re: Saints wary of Bears’ knack for takeaways
AND they don't just take it away...

...they SCORE on you as well... fact, they lead the league in that department the past several years...

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