REMINDER! DABEARSBLOG IS MOVING! We are leaving ChicagoNow effective November 1st. We will be housed exclusively at www.dabearsblog.com from that date (and perhaps sooner) on.
I used to have this recurring nightmare. I call it a nightmare but it was more a Dali-esque surrealist sleep fantasy. All the armies of all the world were chasing me. Firing guns. Smoke in the air. Screaming Vietnamese. Sirens. The works. And I was hiding underneath a black baby grand piano. There was a piano player too, usually playing something like Crocodile Rock. The armies couldn't find me. They'd run around the piano for hours and I just sat there safely. As years went on I'd become aware I was in the dream and I would KNOW there was no danger for me under the piano.
The Bears defense has been under the piano for a decade. The piano of turnovers. Turnovers covered up the unit's flaws throughout the Lovie Smith era. It became their identity - their entire identity. And it has not changed.
Think about it. What does this group do particularly well? They are decent at stopping the run but their gap discipline and tackling against Reggie Bush were so bad one wonders if this was the same unit that faced Adrian Peterson just a few weeks ago. They've struggled to match up with opposing number one wide receivers, too often willing to give the A.J. Greens of the world space off the line of scrimmage. They don't have a reputation for intense physicality or Ryan family blitz schemes. They don't get to the quarterback with their four men up front.
What they do well, better than any defense has ever done in the history of the sport, is take the football away. When they take it away they score at an alarming clip. They are ABOUT turnovers and that's not a bad thing. Folks like to write inanities like, "Turnovers are an unsustainable approach" but the Bears have been sustaining it since 2001. In a league where turnover differential is the greatest indicator of success, why would this ever be viewed as a negative?
Lovie Smith's defensive philosophy was simple. He wanted to make the opponent run ten and twelve play drives to score points because he believed his defense could force a mistake the more plays the offense ran. For the bulk of his tenure he was absolutely correct.
The Bears defense will continue to be about turnovers. When they fail to take the ball away it will be incumbent upon the offense and special teams to win the day. That was the story of Sunday's loss in Detroit. On a day when the defense had very few answers for the Lions - at least in the first half - the Bears allowed a long return, struggled to block on their own returns and most importantly gave the home team short fields with turnovers.
Sunday in Detroit should have been a shootout but unfortunately Jay Cutler didn't pull his gun until after he'd been shot several times in the chest. Or more fittingly he pulled his gun out and shot himself a few times before turning his attention to the opponent.
This Bears defense is not strong enough at defensive tackle to dominate the line of scrimmage. They are not versatile enough at defensive end to shut down an opposing passing game. What they are is crafty and capable of altering the momentum with one punch of the football. Thats who they are. The kings of the modern turnover.
To expect anything else would be foolish.