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updated: 1/12/2014 11:27 PM

Bears may need to make U-turn

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  • Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker talks to players during the Bead 21-19 loss to the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field, Sunday.

      Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker talks to players during the Bead 21-19 loss to the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field, Sunday.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

 
 

Oh, no, please don't tell me the Bears are trending away from the trend again.

That's sure how it looked during the two NFC playoff games over the weekend.

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During the NFL's transition from defense to offense, the Bears remained true to the franchise's DNA of defense. Now, finally, they have a head coach in Marc Trestman who knows offense and particularly quarterbacks.

I was right there with everyone else clamoring for the Bears to be able to throw the ball like 21st century teams should. But not at the expense of besmirching their traditional identity by becoming an awful defense that swung and missed more than Adam Dunn.

Seriously, the NFL's namby-pamby rules notwithstanding, it's still all right to search out a ball carrier's sweet spot and hit him hard instead of hardly.

The Bears couldn't do that and Sunday defensive line coach Mike Phair and linebackers coach Tim Tibesar were fired. Those moves certainly aren't enough. Good health, better players and perhaps eventually a new defensive coordinator to replace Mel Tucker would help even more.

Just look who will play for the NFC title Sunday: Seattle and San Francisco.

The Seahawks beat the Saints 23-15 and the 49ers beat the Panthers 23-10. The math says the winners yielded a combined 25 points, what one offense is supposed to score in one half of one game in this league these days.

Could it be that defenses have caught back up with offenses?

The NFL's four most decorated quarterbacks are Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. The Seahawks beat Brees on Saturday. The 49ers beat Rodgers last week. One of these teams will have to beat either Manning or Brady in the Super Bowl.

That'll be difficult in this era of offense ... or is it the era of defense again?

The Super Bowl should answer that question.

This is about more than defense, though. It's about teams that are physical the way Seattle and San Francisco are.

The Seahawks and 49ers punish teams. They punish opponents with their defense. They punish them with their running game. They punish them, period. They make opponents pay for every inch of yardage with bumps, bruises, aches and pains.

Remember when the Bears' inflicted that type of pounding? Remember when they beat up opponents even if they didn't beat them?

Lately ... not so much.

San Francisco hit Carolina quarterback Cam Newton so hard in the first half Sunday that it was surprising in the second half that he showed up but not surprising that the Panthers were shut out.

All season Seattle defensive backs -- pushers, shovers and midnight grousers -- had opposing receivers wondering where the Seahawks hid their hammers. Plus, their secondary likes to taunt and bark and bite and overall menace and intimidate.

San Francisco's defense isn't quite as vocal on the field, pretty much letting hard hitting do the talking. But the 49ers do have a swagger.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh is the chip on their shoulder, so no wonder QB Colin Kaepernick scored a touchdown against Carolina and mocked the Superman routine Newton employs.

Some of the Seattle and San Francisco behavior embarrasses them as much as their opponents. But, uh, yes, I'd like to see the Bears be as feisty and nasty as the Seahawks and 49ers are.

What was the Bears' marketing campaign this season? Something like, "Believe in Monsters"? Wouldn't it be nice if that were possible?

Not even during the Bears' victories did they remind anyone of the Seahawks, the 49ers or the Bears of the past.

Oh, by the way, neither Seattle nor San Francisco features a high-flying offense.

Yep, the Bears better hope they aren't trending away from the trend again.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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