COMMENTARY | Despite two underwhelming performances by the Chicago Bears (both losses), they maintain a substantially strong position after the season's first five weeks.
Their 3-2 record is good for a tie atop the NFC North (though the Detroit Lions hold a tiebreaker) and have an opportunity to improve on that with upcoming games against the struggling New York Giants and Washington Redskins. Following that, they will have direct shots at the Green Bay Packers and the above-mentioned Lions. But even with an optimistic view of the organization, problems persist. A primary one is the Bears' lack of a consistent pass rush, which is creating a defensive unit that is hardly one to be vaunted.
Though the Bears' defense has continued to be a turnover-crazy unit, after five games it might be about time to acknowledge that this is not the same type of defense that the Bears have sported in previous seasons. Offensively inconsistencies and consequential time-of-possession inequalities are a viable culprit for some of the unit's failings, but this defense -- ranked 20th in opponent yards and 26th in points surrendered (28 per game) -- has been consistently beat. And that has been with Henry Melton and Nate Collins, who are now both out for the season.
Every team needs a pass rush. The Bears are ranked 30th in sacks (8) and have surrendered an alarming amount of yards -- 376 per game. The Bears have often been lauded for being a "bend but don't break" defense, which mostly ignores yardage numbers. And while the Bears have maintained that reputation with stellar red zone defense, you can't rely on timely turnovers forever -- especially against the likes of the NFL's elite. The Bears have found that out as they have approached some of the NFL's more quality opponents -- namely the Lions and the New Orleans Saints, who both handled the Bears rather easily.
Also unlike the past, the Bears' defense is giving up a disappointing 28 points per game and are yet to hold an opponent under 21 (Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1) -- a list that includes two teams currently averaging under 20 points per game (Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers). The highest points-per-game average the Bears' defense has surrendered in the last 10 years has been 23.4 (2009), where they finished 7-9.
There are still plenty of games to turn the numbers around, but with the injuries to Melton and Collins removing the valuable depth the Bears are used to sporting at the position, it begins to leave the defense more and more vulnerable.
Hopefully Mark Trestman's offensive capabilities continue to help the offense grow, because it is becoming more and more clear that the Bears can't ride this defensive squad to victory like they have in so many previous seasons.
Brian is a lifelong Chicago Bears follower. Living in Illinois his entire life has given him an opportunity to closely follow Chicago sports and has allowed him to contribute to Yahoo Sports,Yahoo Voices, and various independent sports blogs. Brian is also a senior in college majoring in creative writing.
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