Are Bears about to break through on takeaways?
Maybe this is the week -- Sunday against the Ravens in Baltimore -- that the Chicago Bears create some good news in the turnover department, which has seen only negative press in recent years.
Bad news: Last year the Bears' defense tied the NFL record for fewest takeaways with 11.
Worse news: This year they're on pace to break the record. They've forced just 3 turnovers in five games.
More bad news: The Bears tied a franchise low with 8 interceptions in 2015.
Even more bad news: They tied that record in 2016.
Worse news: They have zero interceptions through five games this year.
Surprisingly the Bears have played pretty good defense, aside from failing to take the ball away, especially when it's in the air.
Coordinator Vic Fangio's crew is No. 6 in total yards allowed, having yielded just 305 per game. The Bears' defense also is No. 8 in passing yards allowed and No. 10 in sack percentage.
The Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders are the only other teams without an interception, and the Dolphins have played only four games.
The only team with fewer takeaways than the Bears' three is the Atlanta Falcons, who have two.
Bears safety Adrian Amos and inside linebacker Christian Jones had near-picks Monday night, so maybe the Bears are on the verge of that elusive first interception.
"I hope so," Fangio said. "We need them. We're doing a lot of good things, but we're not getting the ball taken away. When we get close, we've got to take advantage of our opportunities."
The whole turnover/take-away thing has been a double-whammy for the Bears because they've also turned the ball over 12 times on 6 fumbles and 6 interceptions. Only the Cleveland Browns, with 13, have given the ball away more times.
The Bears' minus-9 in turnover/takeaway differential is the worst in the league, one of the biggest factors in their 1-4 record.
"It's frustrating, obviously," Fangio said. "We'd like to get them. We need them as a team. It would help everybody if we could get some, especially if we can get them where it turns the field around and we can give a short field to our offense."
Unfortunately for the Bears, one of the few players on the roster with a proven record of takeaways, safety Quintin Demps, went on injured reserve after three games with a fractured arm. He had 15 interceptions in the four seasons before joining the Bears.
In lieu of Demps, others have to make a play.
"We definitely got to get better at that," said outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, who played a season-high 45 snaps in Week 5. "That's a challenge for me and everybody else on the defense. It doesn't matter if we're the No. 1 defense in the league as far as yardage, we need turnovers.
"We've got to start creating them. I think this game right here will be the best opportunity for that."
McPhee could be right.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco already has thrown 6 interceptions, and his 4.2 interception percentage is next to last, ahead of only Browns rookie DeShone Kizer (5.7).
Flacco is 31st among 32 qualifying quarterbacks with a passer rating of 71.0.
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