Bears' death-spiral defense loses only guy who tackles

You might think the Bears don’t have much of a team after what you saw in Washington.

They lost to a bad team and lost their captains on both side of the ball. Dire, if not terminal.

Bears coach Marc Trestman thinks you’re wrong.

You might think the season is over because Jay Cutler tore a groin muscle and is out at least four weeks and maybe more.

I think you’re wrong.

Josh McCown did fine in relief of Cutler in Washington, hitting 14 of 20 passes for 204 yards, one touchdown and no turnovers. Yeah, the Redskins defense is bad, but hey, he wasn’t Caleb Hanie against Kansas City.

McCown still has Cutler’s weapons such as Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett and Earl Bennett. McCown still has an offensive line that is better than the garbage we’ve seen in recent years.

So, no, Cutler’s absence isn’t your best argument that the Bears are dead. Your best argument should be based on the other side of the ball. The good news for the Bears is that the NFC is turning out to be worse than many people thought. The bad news? Same goes for the once-proud unit formerly known as the Bears defense.

Wait a minute. I think the Redskins just put together another 13-play, 80-yard drive that chewed up about half of a quarter.

The death-spiral defense went from bad to worse Sunday. Lance Briggs, the best tackler on a team that refuses to tackle, is out at least six weeks with a shoulder injury. Charles Tillman, the Pro Bowl corner, again finished the game helpless and useless on the sideline.

Remember, the Bears already were down two defensive tackles and a starting linebacker because of injuries. The safeties, who have remained healthy, are awful, and the front four, no matter who wears the laundry, is useless.

Problem is, the front four is where the success of the defense is supposed to start. Instead, that’s where everything has failed, and now the Bears have lost to a bad team while giving up 499 yards.

The Choice (and remember, death is not an option): Julius Peppers is playing through an injury and isn’t telling people or he’s through playing and isn’t telling people.

Bears general manager Phil Emery said Monday he believes Shea McClellin has improved against the run. So, it was everybody else and not the comparatively weak former first-round draft choice who allowed the Redskins to run for more than 200 yards?

Palm-to-forehead. C’mon, everybody. Palm-to-forehead. Call it “Doing the McClellin.’’

The depth expected to help the Bears survive such things is stretched thin and not very good, and Emery didn’t sound like someone who would make trades before Tuesday’s deadline to fix the problems.

Wait a minute, I think Chris Conte just fell down again.

Now the Bears will take this week off and apparently vote whether they want to play the Packers a week from Monday. Interestingly, if you had to vote on which game Cutler should miss for any reason, it would be the Packers. Always the Packers. So, the Bears have that going for them. I mean, nobody on the Packers defense ever said something like “just sit there and Josh will throw you the ball.’’

Problem is, Aaron Rodgers will have his choice of inexperienced or inadequate Bears defenders to sucker. Eddie Lacy will have a number of players who fail to tackle him.

The Lions come after that. Despite losing earlier this season, Cutler owns the Lions. But now he won’t be healthy enough to play. So, the big question is whether Ndamukong Suh gets a smaller contract bonus for cheap-shotting a backup quarterback instead of a starter.

Or maybe the question is whether the Bears will learn to tackle Reggie Bush by then. I’d bet the under.

Those weeks would seem to be the Bears’ shot at the division -- games that also affect wild-card rankings and tiebreakers. They will have to win those without their starting quarterback and best defensive player, the latter a label that used to mean something.

Oh, and if past is prologue, the Bears will have to finish those games without their best cornerback, likely praying that Calvin Johnson doesn’t even start.

Looks dire, huh? You might even think it’s terminal. Trestman disagrees. It’s his job to be right.

chi-chicago-bears-defense-rosenbloom-20131022
Advertisement

PHOTO GALLERIES

TOP VIDEO

CONNECT WITH US


2013 YEAR IN REVIEW
Look for this special section in your
Baltimore Sun newspaper on Dec. 29, 2013.
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Google Plus
  • RSS Feeds
  • Mobile Alerts and Apps