Bears tackling missing in action against Miami Dolphins
Missed tackles will be a topic of conversation this week at Bears practices after a game in which they allowed 247 yards after the catch by one account and 284 yards by another.
By any account, the tackling was atrocious and a major reason the Bears were gouged for 541 total yards in the 31-28 overtime loss to the Dolphins. After missing a combined 15 tackles in their first four games, the Bears were charted by Pro Football Focus as missing 19 Sunday in Miami.
"A lot of missed tackles," admitted S Eddie Jackson. "This is probably the worst game we've played on the defensive side of the ball all year -- missed tackles and (bad) fundamentals. We hurt ourselves."
With the possible exception of the second half in Green Bay, missed tackles have not been a problem for the Bears and shouldn't be going forward, but it got the attention of coach Matt Nagy.
"I hope it's an aberration, but we'll discuss it and we make everybody accountable, we all do," Nagy said. "I think for our team and our players we like to pump them up and show them the good stuff, but we'll also show them the bad stuff. 'Why did this happen?' and use it as motivation. So I hope it was just a one-time thing. These players are very hungry, and they're disappointed, everybody. But now we've got to regroup, and I've got to lead the charge."
Someone will also have to lead the pass rush after Sunday's inability to make Dolphins backup QB Brock Osweiler even mildly uncomfortable on 44 pass attempts. After 18 sacks in the first four games, the Bears didn't get any at Hard Rock Stadium and barely dirtied Osweiler's uniform, as he threw for 380 yards.
It couldn't have come as a surprise to Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio that teams would eventually game plan to neutralize a pass rush that had been a terror through the first quarter of the season. Getting the ball out quickly and throwing shorter routes was the Dolphins' plan, and the Bears didn't have a solution.
"As most teams do, there's emphasis on being able to do some different things with those edge guys, both Leonard (Floyd) and Khalil (Mack), and so (the Dolphins) did some stuff there," Nagy said. "I'll give credit to Miami. They did a good job in regards to hitting guys that were open when they were open and then running after the catch.
"That was huge part of this thing, being able to have the RAC (run-after-the-catch) yards. So, when you're not getting home (on the pass rush), and you're not getting to the quarterback, then you want to do your best to try and get your hands up and have some tipped balls. We didn't have many of those, so hopefully we can improve for next week."
It's difficult to blame Mack for having his first non-impact game as a Bear, especially because he played most of it on a sprained ankle that could be a concern going forward. Nagy downplayed the Mack injury, noting that "he played through it." Regarding X-rays or follow-up examinations, Nagy said, "He'll be having that done in the next couple days."
Whatever the outcome -- and if Mack is lost for any length of time it'll be a huge blow -- other players need to step up. Floyd is still looking for his first sack of the season. But he did draw an unnecessary roughness penalty that added 8 yards toward Miami's first TD, and he was flagged for roughing the passer that added 15 yards to a FG drive on Sunday.
The five-game sack drought is the longest of Floyd's career in one season, and it's alarming that he's got just 1.5 sacks in his last 10 games.
But any other defensive shortcomings were overshadowed by an across-the-board sloppy display of tackling.
"You've got to really make sure you wrap up," Nagy said. "You can't just shoulder tackle. You've got to wrap up. Unfortunately, we got hit with a couple of those (Sunday)."
And the 3-2 Bears will be looking .500 square in the eye if their tackling doesn't get a lot better by Sunday, when they host the Patriots, who just hung 43 points and 500 yards on the Chiefs.