Chicago Sun-Times

Proud Bears defense trying to keep it together

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The Bears' defense is taking more than its share of the blame for the Bears' four-game losing streak that has put their playoff hopes on life-support. Their greatest culpability is that they've been good when they needed to be great.

In the previous four games against the Raiders, Chiefs, Broncos and Seahawks, the Bears' defense allowed a total of 26 points and 3.7 yards per play in the first half and that includes the fluke 38-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass by the Chiefs.

But with the offense unable to produce very many sustained drives, let alone scoring drives, the defense has eventually wilted in the second half. The Bears held the Broncos to 150 yards of total offense through three quarters, but allowed 195 in the fourth quarter and overtime in a 13-10 loss.

That's pretty much typified the situation during the losing streak. They just wilted a little earlier against the Seahawks -- after holding Seattle to 84 yards in the first half, they allowed 135 in the third quarter, including a five-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to start the second half.

Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, baited several times into shifting some of the blame on the Bears' impotent offense since Jay Cutler suffered a broken thumb, wasn't biting Wednesday. He never does.

"It's been frustrating,'' Urlacher said. ''It hasn't been hard. Football is still football. It's still fun. It's been hard to make plays for us for some reason. We're playing small ball with these teams. We haven't given up a lot of points until last week. We just fell apart in the second half. But we've been playing decent for the most part. We just need to make some more big plays."

Considering the Bears are going to get burned every now and then with a big play, their biggest failing has been an inability to make those big plays. The Bears' defense has two interceptions and two fumble recoveries during the four-game losing streak. Even Julius Peppers' strip of Tarvaris Jackson that was recovered by Israel Idonije for a touchdown against the Seahawks wasn't enough.

''No matter what the situation is, we feel like we have to play better,'' Urlacher said. ''We haven't gotten the takeaways, which we've been know for around here for a long time. We've got to get some more of those but our run game has been really good the last few weeks.

''We've played a lot of man though. We've got to get the extra guy out of the box. It puts our corners on islands. It's tough for them. They've done a good job challenging the receivers but we've got to make some play in Cover 2 as well versus the running game."

The Bears' defense has improved from 25th in total yards allowed when Cutler was injured to 17th in the last three weeks. And they've improved from 10th in rushing defense to eighth. Even their pass defense has improved from 30th when Cutler went down to 27th.

But statistically, it's pretty clear the defense is getting worn down. Whether it's because it's late in the season or that the Bears' best defensive players are 30 or older -- Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Julius Peppers and Charles Tillman -- the fact of the matter is that the offense is the biggest culprit for putting too much weight on a good but not great defense.

Right, Brian Urlacher?

"I don't think so,'' he said. ''We don't think about it. I mean, we have a hard enough time ourselves. We can't be worried about what happens on offense. If our number's called we've got to go out there and make some plays and get off the field -- give them ball in good field position for a change. We haven't done that in a long time.''

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3 Comments

Enjoy watching these Bears in these last two games because I bet at least 50% of this current roster will not be Bears next year!
Angelo will stick around for one more year and go nuts in free agency.

The broncos game is a bad example since the Bears defense went into a soft prevent cover 2 defense in the 4 th quarter, literally no pass rush and an extreme coverage where the safeties were 20 yards away from the receivers, so worried about the quick touchdown that 10-20 yard completions were common in the fourth quarter.

The Bears coaches lost that game which overall falls at lovies feet, come on it is time to lose Lovie, Martz, Angelo and Philips at a minimum and start over, it is too bad the McCaskey's don't sell for billions of dollars to an owner that truly commits to a championship team, not mediocrity.

You know the defense improved statistically that's true. But do you think one of the reasons they improved was the level of competition. I mean how many key players were missing from the Raiders? The Chiefs are what? 31st in scoring in the league, Bears got them at home and had to deal with Palko. Then they got Tebow and lets face facts that Denver offense is not very good, sure he Tebowed them, but a lot of that was on offensive mistakes. Then you have the Seattle game, and lets face it anyone who watched that game new what happened, the Bears defense quit. Everyone team is beat up this time of the year and all defenses get tired towards the end of games, everyone gets tired except the kickers and punters. They gave up that one drive to start the half and they had a temper tantrum and quit after that. Tired right after halftime at home? I would say they are frustrated more than they are tired. Granted at Mile High they got gassed, everyone does, cause it's mile high.

You watch if things don't bounce the Bears way early and often, they will have another temper tantrum and quit. Last year everything went their way and they were flying high. It's easy when everything goes your way, but the true test of a great team, hell of anyone, is what happens when the chips are down? I have seen them lose 4 in a row, make a lot of mistakes, and even quit. They have no excuses for what happened in Denver and with the Chiefs. Both those games were winnable, they choked in Denver, they let Tebow drive on them and score on them three times in a row and kept sitting their safeties 30 yards off the line and Barber on offense, his mistakes cost them a victory as well. But both sides chocked. They couldn't beat the Chiefs at home? Really? Against Tyler friggin Palko? The defense made a mistake that cost them, you bat the ball down not out, this is not the first time we have seen this happen in the nfl, there is always a trail man waiting for someone to hit the ball out, always. Plus the team that claims to be great at forcing turnovers couldn;t get one against Palko, who had 7 turnovers in his first two games, who managed to put up 3 points on the Pats defense, one of the worst defenses in the nfl. No excuse to lose either of those games, and against Seattle they quit, you can say they were tired all you want, they suddenly got tired right after their halfime break? Stop making excuses for the team. Oh Cutler is down, Forte is down, yeah well Matt Cassel, Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry, and Tony Moeaki. They have a patch work offensive line that they have been swapping in and guys of all year, but they beat the Bears, then they went and beat the Packers.

Sure they have been tired like every team in the nfl, but they have lost games because they have made mistakes, big mistakes on both sides of the ball and then finally they just quit against Seattle. Or excuse me they got tired and it was sleepy time. Cause they are so old, "well last year I was 29 and everything was great, but this year I am 30 and I need naps, and help getting out of bed."

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on December 22, 2011 1:43 PM.

Tice, Martz, Cutler victimized by McCown's greatest hits was the previous entry in this blog.

Marion Barber and Devin Hester do not practice Friday is the next entry in this blog.

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