At least Bears coach Lovie Smith didn’t try to sugarcoat his defense’s disappointing performance in Sunday’s overtime loss to the Seahawks.
Asked on Monday if there was anyone who played well while permitting 459 total yards, Smith said: “No. I can’t even point anybody out. Just about every good defensive game we’ve played around here we’ve all had something to do with that player-wise.
“(Sunday) we all had something to do with that performance that we’re not proud of. And I still say we haven’t had many of those, but it does happen. We’ve just got to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Having lost three of their last four games, the 8-4 Bears can’t afford another loss Sunday in Minnesota against the 6-6 Vikings. But they’ll surely be hitting the road with an injury-depleted roster.
Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher (hamstring), cornerback Tim Jennings (shoulder) and wide receiver Earl Bennett (concussion) all left Sunday’s 23-17 loss with injuries and are probably no better than doubtful for the Vikings.
Guard Chris Spencer (knee) and wide receivers Alshon Jeffery (knee) and Devin Hester (concussion) all missed the Seahawks game. Smith says he hopes to have them back Sunday, but that’s questionable at this point.
Nearly every NFL team has injury concerns in the final month of the season, so the Bears’ failing health doesn’t make them unique.
The greater issue is a once-dominant defense that has held just two of its past six opponents under 20 points. Against the Seahawks, it wasn’t just the yards allowed or the two late and lengthy TD drives it permitted.
Equally as disturbing is the previously dangerous pass rush isn’t very intimidating lately. The Bears haven’t had more than 2 sacks in any of the past six games.
“Yeah, you’re right, the pass rush wasn’t there,” Smith said. “We didn’t contain the quarterback the way we needed to.”
Takeaways, the lifeblood of the defense, have dried up.
The defense forced a Marshawn Lynch fumble on the opening possession Sunday, but it never got another.
“(That) was our only takeaway, which isn’t good,” Smith said. “We go into every game hoping to get 3. We feel like we need to get 3, and we didn’t.”
In the only game they’ve won in the last four — against the Vikings — the Bears got their quota of 3 takeaways. In their three recent losses, they’ve forced a total of 3 turnovers.
Even the Bears’ run defense, which was the best in the NFL midway through the season, looks susceptible. The run defense has been almost twice as bad in the last six games as it was in the first six. Through the first six games, no team ran for more than 106 yards against the Bears, who allowed an average of 71 rushing yards per game.
Since then, in the last six games, no team has run for less than 114 yards, as the defense has permitted an average of 136 yards on the ground.
That might be the most frightening number to contemplate this week as the Bears prepare for a rematch against the Vikings and Adrian Peterson. He rambled for 210 yards on Sunday, averaged 6.0 yards per carry against the Bears nine days ago and leads the NFL with 1,446 rushing yards.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.