The Chicago Bears defense is bad. Really, it’s historically bad for a franchise that has always been known for it’s in your face play from some of the greatest defensive players to ever play the game.
New defensive coordinator Mel Tucker has taken a lot of heat from fans this season, who are frustrated in watching a predictable defense be unable to stop anything they are up against. While the frustrations for the Bears faithful certainly comes from an unfamiliarity of watching their teams defense get pushed around, it is hard to put this season on Tucker.
“Coach speak,” as it is often referred to will give you the old sports cliche “We won’t blame injuries for our struggles.” But with the list of injuries that seems to grow each week, Tucker has really been in a tough spot all season.
The names are household ones; Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman, Henry Melton, and that’s to go along with D.J Williams, Major Wright and Stephan Paea. That doesn’t mention the week to week injuries that a variety of players have suffered.
Another sports cliche you hear coaches use is “Next man up.” They can try to get you to buy into the theory that a guy who was a backup a week ago can all of the sudden fill the shoes of the guy who was deemed better than them when they were healthy.
No position on the field has had to deal with that situation more than the Bears linebackers this season. With the retirement of Brian Urlacher, and the injuries to Lance Briggs and D.J Williams, to say the Bears are inexperienced at linebacker may be an understatement.
The Bears are starting rookies Jon Bostic and Kaseem Greene at two of their linebacker positions, and opponents haven’t been shy about picking on them. It is no secret that the Bears have been unable to stop the run all season, and it has never been more apparent with the Bears most recent draft picks starting on the second line of defense.
When you break down the film, it is easy to see where the struggles of Bostic, who has taken over the middle linebacker position, has come from. His inability to get off blocks, along with his overaggressiveness on play action, have led to some wide open plays opponents via the run and the pass.
Simple run blocking has tied Bostic up, creating large holes for running backs to work their way back to the safeties.
Greene hasn’t helped any more than Bostic. His occasional poor pursuit by taking bad angles to running backs outside of the tackles has also helped running backs get to the next level of defense, leaving the safeties on an island by themselves to attempt and open field tackle on a guy with all of his momentum going the opposite direction.
It’s no wonder the Bears are giving up over five yards a carry and ultimately over 150 yards a game.
With the NFC North becoming a division open for the taking to whoever is willing to grab the opportunity, the Bears will need their defense to be a lot better than it has been this season. Usually, by this point in the season, you don’t see that type of turnaround. With an offense capable of winning games themselves, the Bears don’t need the defense to be one of the tops in the league. They do need them to be serviceable. Seeing the rookie linebackers taking steps forward would go a long way in the Bears playoff hopes.