In this city we are used to the Bears' defense being the offense of the team. Creating turnovers, scoring plays and leaving opposing quarterbacks battered and bruised. These last few games have shown us a different side of the defense we haven't seen very often. They look bad. Not just bad, but old. Two of the last three games the defense hasn't shown up and has gotten a thorough ass handing from the opposing offense. What's more alarming is that the beat downs have occurred against offenses in the lower tier of the league rankings with quarterbacks named Colin Kapernick and Russell Wilson, one who has barely started and the other who is a rookie. Not exactly Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady. So what is going on? A defense that dominated the first half of the season has suddenly struggled to stop anybody and is not creating the turnovers it did early on. With the defense playing its worst in the middle of a playoff push and four games remaining there is definitely a reason to be concerned.
Remember a few weeks back when the Bears laid an absolute smack down on the Jaguars? When Charles Tillman was 'Peanut Punching' every single opponent and Tim Jennings was returning interceptions for touchdowns on a weekly basis and the defensive line was getting to the quarterback with relative ease? It seems like a while ago and after the performances against the 49ers and Seahawks it seems like the Vikings game was a rare sighting rather than the norm.
The Bears defense is getting older and it was never more apparent than in Sunday's fourth quarter and overtime against Seattle. Russell Wilson ran circles around them and had each player on the defense gasping for air as if they were at the top of Kilimanjaro. Not only did they seem incapable of stopping the Seahawks offense but they looked confused every time Wilson dropped back in the pocket. They played more like a unit trying not to lose the game instead of playing to win the game, and unfortunately they didn't succeed in either.
Critics have said the defense would need to carry the offense which has spent the majority of the season trying to find its way but on Sunday the offense was firing on all cylinders and it was the defense that was the weak link. After the miracle catch by Brandon Marshall and Robbie Gould tying up the game to send it to OT it seemed like the Bears were on the verge of a win despite a late scare but the 94, 97 and 88 yard drives the Seahawks orchestrated late in the fourth quarter and in overtime had left the defense completely gassed and they never recovered. It was obvious the defense wouldn't stop the Seahawks when Wilson consistently hit wide open receivers and gaps in the defense for big chunks of yards. The Bears defense prides itself on big plays and causing chaos but it failed to get any big turnovers when it mattered most and Wilson looked cool as a cucumber in the pocket with little to no rush to disrupt his cadence.
If the Bears are going to right the ship the MUST have the defense return to its early season form. Injuries are piling up on the defense which could result in more of what we have seen the last two out of three weeks rather than the smash mouth defense we are used to seeing. In the final four games the Bears have one home game, three division games and a trip to Arizona remaining on the schedule. The game against the Packers in two weeks will most likely decide the division and the Bears defense has got to fix their issues in the final four games for this team to be successful. I picked the Bears to win the Super Bowl at the beginning of the season and I still stand by it, but if the defense doesn't get back on track not only will my prediction be wrong, but the Bears may not even make it to the playoffs.
UPDATE: With Brian Urlacher expected to miss at least three games and possibly the rest of the regular season it will put even more pressure on the defense to get back to their early season form without their leader.
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