Cornerback Donald Strickland sprinted into the Bears backfield, put a swim move past a blocker, and then produced what would soon become a familiar sight in Saturday's preseason game: a Bears quarterback lying on the ground.
With six sacks, the strategy was effective. Was any of it personal?
At least some eyebrows were raised in Chicago.
“I thought it was silly of former Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera to blitz his defensive backs at least three times in the first few series,” Chicago Sun-Time blogger Sean Jensen wrote.
“The Chargers were blitzing (third-string quarterback Dan LeFevour) as if it were the Super Bowl,” Chicago Tribune's Dan Pompel wrote.
Brad Biggs, also from the Chicago Tribune, noted that “some speculated that Rivera dialed up pressure because of lingering feelings over his departure from the Bears following the 2006 season. Also, consider that Bears coach Lovie Smith fired Ron Turner, the brother of Chargers coach Norv Turner, after last season. But that is what the Chargers defense does — blitz.”
Bears center Olin Kreutz told Biggs his team didn't expect Rivera to throw “pretty much the kitchen sink at us the whole game.”
“We expected to come in here and have a first preseason game,” Kruetz said. “That's not the way it went. ...It's good for us. With a new offense we like to see everything before we hit the regular season so we can make our improvements. They were all different blitzes, so obviously they had their whole package in.”
Rivera was the Bears' defensive coordinator in the 2004, 2005 and 2006 seasons. After his contract was not renewed, he joined the Chargers in 2007 as linebackers coach and was promoted to coordinator before the 2008 campaign.
Rivera was not immediately available for comment due to meetings.