The Best Defense of Lovie Smith's Tenure

The Best Defense of Lovie Smith's Tenure

In 2005 Lovie Smith's Chicago Bears won the NFC North without an offense for fourteen weeks. They won games 9-7 (Washington), 10-6 (Baltimore), 13-3 (Carolina) and 13-10 (Tampa) prior to Rex Grossman's triumphant return from injury in prime time against the Atlanta Falcons. In 2006 Lovie's boys allowed 7 points or less in four of their first five games but looked far more human after Denny Green's Cardinals proved the Bears were who he thought they were on a Week Six trip to Arizona.

The 2012 Chicago Bears are the best defensive group of Lovie Smith's tenure. And if they stay healthy the 2012 Chicago Bears are legitimate contenders to play in that big ballgame in New Orleans come February.

It starts at corner, believe it or not. The position often believed to be an afterthought in Lovie's cover-2 shell has become this vintage's bread and butter. After Tim Jennings played at an All-Pro level for the month of September, Peanut Tillman capped off a magnificent three-week run against the Detroit Lions by shutting down the league's best receiver. With Charles Woodson hitting the infirmary for the next six weeks I could also make a serious argument that DJ Moore is the most consistent nickel back in the game (and certainly in the NFC North).

At safety, I lean on Zach Zaidman. Here is a direct Tweet from the man:

In 12 games with the Conte/Wright starting safety tandem, #Bears defense has 22 INTs and only 9 passing TDs allowed.

After a decade of Kevin Paynes, Al Afalavas (apparently still IN the NFL) and Brandon McGowans it appears Lovie Smith has found a pair of safeties he entrusts to positions themselves 18-22 yards off the ball. But last night we saw just how flexible these two guys can be. Major Wright made several excellent edge-seals in the run game and Chris Conte may very well be the best blitzing option the Bears have if he can keep his balance when unabated to the quarterback.

The front seven is ferocious. Last night with safeties lined up at the Art Institute the Lions were unable to mount anything resembling a running attack. Lance Briggs is the best pure linebacker in the sport, Brian Urlacher is coming back...slowly and all eight guys in the defensive line rotation are capable of getting to the quarterback on every single play. (I think Shea McClellin is going to be an absolute star in this system for years to come.)

They have allowed fewer points than any team in the league by a wide margin. They have turned the takeaway into their own private art form. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli mixes looks and personnel groups just enough to confound opposing quarterbacks. They do everything well and they do just about everything better than the rest of the NFL.

We were told by David Haugh and some other Chicago columnists this would be the year offensive football lit the torch and led the angry mob to kill the monster. Not so fast my friends. This is a defensive town. This is a defensive team. And they are Lovie's best.

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  • So unexpected that this team is so defensively dominant, with a much better offense than 2006. Watch out NFL, if things keep going their way this will be a tough team to stop.

    Stay healthy, Bears!

  • Fir...uh... SECOND

  • Said this in the last thread:

    We must call Tillman Optimus Prime now…always beats Megatron.


  • Only problem is that Peanut is the best nickname ever.


  • let's split the defrence

    "OPTIMUS PEANUT"!!!!!!!!

  • fb_avatar

    Pretty sure no one is going to be questioning Jay's toughness anymore.

    Peanut played one of his best games- ever.

    Panther's are comin to town. Steve Smith usually has amazing games against Chicago. Hopefully, this isn't the classic trap game comin

  • In reply to Chris Odom:

    Steve Smith? Holy shit CO. 33 just turned the best receiver in the game into a non factor. Cam Newton is going to have a
    very long day and I doubt 5'2" Steve Smith will find success where Calvin Johnson couldn't.

  • In reply to Johnnywad:

    I wouldn't be so confident. Steve Smith is still a beast - trust me on that.

  • In reply to SC Dave:

    Too true, they don't call Steve Smith the "Bear Killer" for nothing. I'd be happy to see him get shut down too.

    I think our Dline has to adjust a bit for Cam Newton. He *has* played terrible, but he runs well and we lost containment a few times last night. If we force him to throw, we shouldn't have any trouble.

  • In reply to SC Dave:

    I know you wouldn't SC. Its not in your nature. He's averaging around 70 yds a game against defenses much softer than the Bears.6 games in and he has 0 touchdowns. That's ZERO. Its possible that he has a good game against the Bears. Unlikely, but possible. I wouldn't bet on it though. Cam Newton is having a bad season to date and I just don't think it reasonable to assume he turns it around this week and Steve Smith goes off. "Bear Killer" indeed. Steve Smith can kiss my ass.

  • In reply to Johnnywad:

    It will be Jennings turn on Sunday. He matches up better against smaller quicker receivers. He's up to the task though.

  • Last year I wouldn't have said that. This year, I definitely would. Tim's improvement has been a boon to the defense.

  • In reply to Johnnywad:

    Luke Kuechly = young Urlacher. Peanut owns Megatron like Steve Smith owns Chicago.

  • Jeff our Defense is playing outstanding. I agree.

    However the Lions did march down the field 3 times to get into the redzone. They coughed up the ball every time due to a combination of mistakes and our aggressive D who are excellent at attacking the ball. I don't expect a better offense allowing that as much as the Lions last night. Defensively we need more 3 and outs rather than allowing long offensive drives. Tillman cannot have that kind of performance every time and we cannot realistically expect that. I'm not trying to "rain on the parade" here just trying to keep it real.

    Our Secondary are "ball hogs" and Yes we finally have good safeties. I like Conte even though he needs to refine a few things. Overall I was happy with the win and if our defense needs to carry us to the Big One then so be's been that way a very long time. I don't think we have to worry about that...having Marshall has sparked something on the can almost feel it...the Guy is always smiling and it seems he's "come home". That is an awesome thing and that kind of aura is contagious. I haven't felt this good about a Bears team since 2005 and we had "loose-cannon" Rexy back then!

    BEAR DOWN!!!

  • In reply to Bears-4-Ever:

    I was going to mention similar.

    It appeared that the Bears defense let Stafford do what he wanted, and then miraculously or not got the turnover just short of the goal line. I don't think one can count on that, and the score could have easily been 28-13 Detroit, except for their own butterfingers.

    At least Peanut shut down Megatron. (Sounds too David and Goliath to me.)

  • In reply to Bears-4-Ever:

    We put up only 13 points on a 2-5 team, I don't take any positives from that game. One TD and a blocked FG. That sucks.

    We have good safeties now? Or do we have a pass rush? Our best safety doesn't even start (Steltz .... or Peanut, depending on which way you look at it.)

    What I see when Pittsburgh play, and O-linemen are dropping like flies, are replacements going in, scheming is immediately adjusted on the fly, and they don't miss a beat they're 3-3 or whatever, but they could beat anyone on the day. Ben is bad-ass at the QB thing.

  • I think a main difference maker you left out is Henry Melton. His pressure up the middle has been huge, and he's made impact plays every day. A healthy and dominant Tommie Harris was the key to 2006, and Melton has started to take on that roll.

  • In reply to Mcflipside:

    Another difference maker - in a bad way - was Garza. Two false starts in as many minutes? You're the fucking Center!

  • We are not accidentally good at taking the ball away.

  • In reply to Viva:

    And will all the cover 2 naysayers please stand up ..... sacks, interceptions, takeaways, you name it ... #1 baby.

  • I have an answer to the question: why does our offense sputter?
    Predictability. Mike and Jeremy need to get this issue resolved. For well trained tacticians, predictable opponents are a wet dream.

    Gruden's comments last night regarding the institutional knowledge on the defensive side of the ball was very precise. We always think of it in terms of great QB's and their OC counter parts, but the Bears do have a Great D right now as a result of their institutional knowledge...

    Long live Charles Tillman!

  • In reply to Viva:

    I think our offense sputtered last night because our quarterback played the entire second half at about 40%. And I think the offensive staff very wisely last night coached their lead.

  • In reply to Jeff Hughes:


  • In reply to lobotobear:


  • In reply to Viva:

    what?...Viva.... You're telling me you couldn't tell by Cutt'y throw's he was hurting? I mean damn!!!!!

    from now on Cutty's new nick name is "Batman" He is the dark knight.....he's a vigilante, and I like that in angry football player and this is why his teammates will follow him in to battle.

    With Batman hurt Ticey handed the ball off and tried not to compromise him.

  • In reply to Jeff Hughes:

    Notwithstanding Cutler's health and lack of a TE worth a shit, they were predicatable in the first half... Cutler's ability to scramble (which I'm guessing was not by design) saved the only drives that put points on the board. If I am wrong after you review the tape let me know. Who said homework couldn't be fun.

  • In reply to Viva:

    VIva I think that's what blogfader is getting at.

  • In reply to Viva:

    And like you said about the turnovers not being an accident, I'm sure the offense saw something on tape that told them there would be room for Jay to take off and run on occasion. He did it too often for it not to have been game planned. Especially when considering he hasn't really scrambled all year.

  • one simple football phrase boyz....

    "Offense wins games.....Defense wins Championships"

  • In reply to lobotobear:

    For the most part, I agree lobo, but in this "pass happy" and "QB Rushing" NFL we have now it's starting to change. Multiple long drives will kill any defense if they are on the field too long. Our Offense needs to score big against the better teams. That Marshall TD was a thing of beauty..we need more of that.

  • In reply to Bears-4-Ever:

    Agreed, almost the whole 2nd half Lions Defense shut the Bears offense down. Whatever adjustments were made at halftime didn't work.
    I figure we got 2 more games we should win then the fun really begins...hope we're ready.

  • In reply to Bears-4-Ever:

    B4E...agree on the O..... but If I am correct from last years class of the NFL" Fudgepeckers"..(take a moment while I vomit a little in my mouth) were a pass happy fucks and they got spanked first round....and the SB Champs had one of the strongest four man front and "D" I not seeing that correctly.

  • In reply to lobotobear:

    Yes, of course defense has been pivotal and yes last year the fudgepackers were handled nicely by a very strong defense. But they were handled because of great coaching as well...defense that can adjust based on the opponent's offense will win every time. The Bears don't seem to "adjust" all that well and when they do they are slow to do so.

    Last night we could have dominated and I didn't see enough adjustments to change things on the fly. As MaddBearFan stated above I hope we're ready for the big dogs in the league when the time comes.

  • Can't wait to see Shea start dominating! Wow, the D is amazing hopefully they'll make more interceptions next game. Wright needs to get those...

  • our second half O was readjusted because of Batman's Ribs...Ticey had a totally different game-plan than the one that had to be for the second half.

  • While Cutler did not look sharp other than the first drive or two (he never seemed on all cylinders after that shot he took on that run up the middle), some credit has to go to the Lions defense. Despite injuries, their defensive backfield made several very good defensive plays to deny the ball to our receivers.

    On the offense's performance, one cannot be happy leaving that many drives unfinished. What is too infrequent in the offense, I think, are play action passes and delayed runs - especially the latter.

  • Somebody tell me how this is not a penalty.

  • Doc...I find it interesting that he threw his right leg under "Batman" to body slam him....I could be wrong but I see a fine coming down the pike....

  • right from the horse's mouth:

    Cutler admitted the injury affected his accuracy in the second half, but added that Suh's hit was clean.

    "I thought I was gone. Then he got a hold of me," Cutler said. "From that point, I knew it wasn't gonna end well."

    I think was a game-plan changer...don't you?????

    more from that article earlier:
    Cutler admitted the sack by Suh in the second quarter knocked the wind out of him. With 5:06 remaining in the first half, Suh -- with his right arm and elbow pinned against Cutler's helmet -- slammed the quarterback backward to the ground for an 8-yard sack.

    Writhing in pain, Cutler stayed on the field for a few minutes before leaving on his own power with backup Jason Campbell entering in relief. Campbell scrambled for a 5-yard gain on the next play. Then on third down, Cutler came back out on the field, drawing loud applause from the crowd before incomplete to Devin Hester on the play, forcing the Bears to punt.

  • Batman is on

  • What an amazing defensive effort from the Bears. The Lions scoring 7 points really makes their offense look better than it was. Think about that: 7 points makes their offense look better than it was against our D.

    On specials, I don't think we did anything wrong. There wasn't really an opportunity to return kicks because the Lions kept directional punting. And we didn't give up anything major when we kicked.

    On offense, I think we looked sharp until the injury. Carimi looks like a rookie, Garza is average (not a good title for the "captain of the line"), and we still need to get better at the play calling. But we were a productive offense that got out of some tough field positions spots and put points on the board pretty consistently.

    Post-injury, I think its great what Jay did. I would have liked to see Jason Campbell in for a couple of series at the end. We brought in a solid backup so Jay doesn't have to play hurt. I understand the decision not to, but I hope that Jay will not be any more injured this week than he would have been if he stayed out.


  • I missed about 60% of the first half. On the road trying to avoid an impending snowstorm. I saw Carimi get a very iffy holding call when his man was clearly offsides (offsetting penalties) and a phantom penalty against Rachal for a personal foul that didn't happen. Once Cutler got body slammed he couldn't throw the ball with any mustard on it and his accuracy wasn't great.

    You guys all want the D to be perfect but remember the Kitties passed for over 5000 yds last year. I was happy to get out with a W. Not a pretty game but a beautiful outcome.

  • Welcome to the "Black & Blue Division"

  • Shifting attention to the Vikings. Did anybody see them play Arizona? I'm looking at the stat sheet and the Vikings looked terrible outside of AP and the pick 6. Was this one of those "the numbers don't tell the story" games or are they on the downswing?

  • In reply to NewBearInTown:

    they are terrible. We're going to kill them.

    They are last month's cardinals NB.

    How's the sleep going? Hanging in?

  • In reply to MB30SD:

    My wife is a saint and let's me sleep through the night.

    But I get the older kids' school stuff ready after they're in bed, so I'm up a bit late. Then I get up a bit before 6am to put the oldest on the bus. So with the short (albeit contiguous) nights, the week does tend to grind a bit.

    But I have to say, we love our boys. Getting to hang out with the three of them makes it all worth it.

  • In reply to NewBearInTown:

    well said. Glad to hear it.

  • I am only asking this because I never saw the 85 Bears play. Is this defense really better than the 85 Bears defense?

  • no fucking way. NO NFL defense has ever been that good. Period.

  • In reply to MB30SD:

    true. But on this 4 game win streak, this D has allowed 8.5 points per game (per Zaidman). And some of that was garbage points like last night.

    That's INSANE.

  • We're still way behind that team on sacks, tackles for loss, yardage given up. There really is no comparison. You couldn't afford that defense now.

  • Not even close. That team had Hof'ers and Pro Bowlers everywhere you looked. Plus that 46 D was new and people didn't have a clue how to attack it. Let's put it this way, if Walter hadn't fumbled early in our own territory, The Bears opponents in the playoffs would have scored 0 points. They went in with 2 shutouts and the Pats were the weakest of the 3 teams they played in the playoffs. If they don't get that gift FG Buddy would never have let the second and third stringers give up that garbage TD.

    The rules have changed so much there will never be a D that dominant ever again.

  • In reply to CanadaBear:

    While I wouldn't put this team ahead of the 85 defense, I think when it's said and done there have been and will be plenty of perrenial Pro-Bowlers and HOFes on this team. Urlacher, Peppers, Briggs, Tillman and maybe more. Peanut is probably the best CB in Bears history.

  • In reply to Shady:

    Defensive players don't rank in the HOF. 50% are offense, the rest are made up of coaches, media cameramen, electricians and defenders. To get into the HOF as a corner you need to be a media whore or have played QB as well. Being the best corner in Bears history won't mean much in Canton - especially with no rings.

    Peanut and Child Support might not make it to the hall. Sad but true.

  • Not even close Artoo...

    We'll NEVER see a combination of awesome players with an awesome Defensive Coordinator and a Defensive scheme that confused almost everyone than that in 85. It was the right players, with the right coach with the right plan at the right time.


  • In reply to MB30SD:

    well bend me over and FOOKMI!!!! hahahaha

  • new thread

  • Have I mentioned how great it feels to have a true #1 WR lately? No? Well it feels fucking fantastic.

  • Regarding Zaidman's tweet :

    In 12 games with the Conte/Wright starting safety tandem, #Bears defense has 22 INTs and only 9 passing TDs allowed.

    Yeah, cos that's got absolutely nothing to do with the front 7 ... right ?

  • Listen men the bears are playing great team defense. Each week now someone else makes a big play. Tillman has been doing this for ten years now he's starting to get the attention he deserves. This D line is so well coached you can see it in the young players and in the older players the stunts they run not only keeps the linebackers free to roam and the secondary feeds off what they are doing up front. Does anyone agree with me concerning Mike Tice that he sometimes gets giddy in his play calling he know's he got some weapons at the WR's , look my point in fact when the bears scored there 13th point not once did he even try to run in there I know they have good d line, but at that point Bush was running pretty good up in there y/n . One other thing the O Line these guys are good run blockers but sometimes they can pass block for crap lolololololol Hey left guard Racheal i like him he's tough does not take any shit did you see him monday nite cutler had to tell him to cool out we do not want a 15yarder oh one other thing it's fun being in a family of 1 bear fan (me) 1 viking fan my brother joe and the rest are jint fans

    frankie deleo
    bronx ny

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