Same Old Game With a Different Name..........Success!
November 15, 2011Same philosophy, different results for defense
By: Larry Mayer | Last Updated: 11/15/2011 2:57 PM
After struggling early in the season, the Bears defense has done a complete about-face. But contrary to what some believe, the unit’s resurgence has nothing to do with a change in philosophy.
“We’re doing the same things we’ve been doing all along,” said coach Lovie Smith. “We believe in our system. Part of our system isn’t giving up big plays, keeping the ball in front of us, playing the same way. We’re putting the guys in the same position that we try to each week.”
After allowing five plays of at least 50 yards in their first five games, the Bears have not permitted any plays over 40 yards in their last four contests. But the defense has done more than just eliminate big plays.During their four-game winning streak, the Bears have yielded 65 points and generated 12 takeaways. In losing three of their previous four games, they gave up 110 points and produced just five takeaways.The run defense has cut its yardage total in half, allowing 282 yards during the four-game winning streak after permitting 568 yards in the previous four outings.
The pass defense has also improved dramatically, recording nine sacks and nine interceptions while allowing three touchdowns in the four wins after registering four sacks and three interceptions while permitting nine TDs in the previous four games.
“It’s about execution and that’s what the guys are buying into more and just their role,” Smith said. “Our defensive crew has been playing together for a while now too. So I think they know what we’re trying to get accomplished.”
The defense got a whole lot accomplished in Sunday’s 37-13 thrashing of the Lions, generating six takeaways, scoring two touchdowns and not allowing a TD until the Bears had built a comfortable 31-point lead.
The dominant effort helped avenge a bitter Week 5 loss in Detroit. In that game, the defense allowed touchdowns on a 73-yard pass and an 88-yard run. Prior to that, the Bears hadn’t permitted a scoring run and pass of at least 73 yards in an entire season since 1999.
“Just a couple fundamental mistakes were the whole difference in that game,” said defensive end Israel Idonije. “The games where we’ve really not shown our best, it’s just come down to fundamental football, guys being where they’re supposed to be, understanding your assignment, effort to the ball and hitting.
“When you get back to those things, it’s tough to beat.”
The defense certainly has been tough to beat since its embarrassing performance in Detroit.
“I don’t know if it was a turning point, but I think it was one of those games where we were disappointed because that fell on our shoulders,” Idonije said.
“You can’t have big plays result in scores. That’s just not this defense. That was so uncharacteristic of who we are as a defense, so it was very disappointing.
“Everyone just focused and was committed to getting better. Our coaches, on top of that, said, ‘Put that behind us. We’re a good team. Look at the men in this room. We’re really going to turn it up,’ and that’s what we’ve done.”