While the news that Jay Cutler has been medically cleared to play Sunday is great, this article will be about something much more worrisome in the long run for both fans of the Chicago Bears and the Bears themselves.
The problems on defense have always been an issue but this year they have been magnified by the multiple key injuries and, quite frankly, poor play from guys who have had to step in as replacements.Lance Briggs will miss yet another week, Henry Melton is out for the year and newly acquired defensive end Jay Ratliff will miss another week as well. Every team has been bitten by the injury bug, so that is no excuse for the quality (or lack thereof) of play.
Against the Green Bay Packers, it seemed Packers running back Eddie Lacy was invisible as he and gashed the Bears’ defensive unit for Everyone who went to tackle him missed on their initial attempt, which can not happen against a running back like Lacy who can gain many yards after initial contact, which he did. Case in point- when the Bears faced off against the Detroit Lions in late September, he had more than 100 yards on 18 carries for a 7.7 yard average. The Bears will have to make sure a repeat performance does not occur this Sunday, but it is looking more and more likely that it will unless something changes.
Defense must improve if Chicago Bears want to keep winning
Other than from the Julius Peppers interception and Shea McClellin’s long-awaited breakout game last week, the Bears looked as if they had not yet come out of the visiting locker room. Missed tackles, assignments and general confusion was the M.O. of the defense last Monday night. Luckily, Josh McCown and the offense came to the rescue. Sure, there were some nice stops from the unit that led to either a punt or a field goal, but those were when Seneca Wallace was in for the injured Aaron Rodgers, and you are not going to have a tough time getting to Wallace.
Chris Conte and Major Wright looked dazed and confused the entire game. It did not matter if they were defending the rush or the pass, they missed tackles on multiple occasions. The fact these guys are the starters week in and week is utterly confounding, and the Bears have had to continuously bail them out with their offense.
Every game this season so far has been a struggle defensively. If the Bears expect to compete at a championship level and make the playoffs, they need to step up and stop missing assignments as well as make tackles on the first attempt. Easier said than done, apparently. Coming off arguably his best game as a Chicago Bear, McClellin has been limited in practice and is doubtful for Sunday’s game. Defensive ends Cheta Ozougwu and David Bass have been called upon to step in for McClellin. This could provide the energy the Bears need on defense, and these two could help in the areas in which the unit is struggling as well.
Whatever changes occur with the defense, whether it be a different approach or guys coming in as replacements, they can no longer afford to have these issues.