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Bears defense is a difference maker again

Chicago Bears v Green Bay Packers Getty Images

After the Bears moved to 5-3 two weeks ago, coach Lovie Smith admitted it sometimes felt like his team was 2-6.   The team made so many mistakes, that a market correction in their record looked inevitable.

A funny thing happened over the last five days, though.  The Bears actually look like a playoff group.

Chicago’s 16-0 drubbing of the Dolphins Thursday was a huge step towards making the tournament.   The Bears may not always look spectacular, but their 7-3 record is very real.

Jay Cutler, Mike Martz, and the Bears offensive line gets all the attention.  But it is the healthy, reborn Bears defense that has keyed their record.  Sure, Thursday’s game wasn’t a fair fight.  The Dolphins were stuck with their third-string center, third-string quarterback, and no Brandon Marshall in the second half.

That’s not Chicago’s fault and they handled the depleted Dolphins like a good team should.   (Miami did beat Tennessee last Sunday, don’t forget.)  Even before Thursday’s win, the Bears defense was among the top four NFL defenses in yards, points, yards-per-rush allowed, and yards-per-passing attempt allowed.  Those rankings will climb.

For three years after Smith’s only Super Bowl appearance, the Bears defense was average, adrift, and often injured. This year, the addition of Julius Peppers along with healthy campaigns from Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, and Charles Tillman has turned the Bears defense into a major weapon again.

“Our defense is better than it was back [in 2006],” Urlacher said on NFL Network after the game.

7 wins doesn’t guarantee the Bears anything in a deep NFC.  They still have games against the Eagles, Jets, and Patriots, plus three road games in the division.  It’s a lot easier to see a path to 10 wins after Thursday’s result.

Jay Cutler is not going to stop mistakes overnight, but the Bears have found a formula that works for them.  Martz has stuck with the run of late, even early in games.  After a disastrous start to the year, Cutler has converted 28 of 49 third downs (57%) over the last three weeks.  They are sustaining drives and letting Devin Hester’s returns and the defense win games for them.

You could say the Bears have an identity.  They know who they are, and what weaknesses they have to cover up.  Squint real hard and Jay Cutler even looks little like Rex Grossman.

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23 Responses to “Bears defense is a difference maker again”
  1. joe240 says: Nov 19, 2010 12:27 AM

    A Bear post that is positive?! What the heck is going on around here?

  2. Rex Grossman says: Nov 19, 2010 12:38 AM

    Jay Cutler wishes he was Rex Grossman f yea

    In other news, BEARS #1 D IN THE NFL AND #1 IN THE NFC NORTH.

    Dont pick against them again Gregg Rosenthal you will LOSE hard

    Rex Grossman yeah man that 06 team was great. this years team is not better but they are pretty good. Rex Grossmannnnn forever our quarterback i love you man

  3. greenmamba12 says: Nov 19, 2010 12:45 AM

    AHAHAHAHAH PLAYOFFS?!!?

    They held a thrid string QB down, Congrats
    Their Pitiful offense could only manage 16 points after great field position…..

    Keep Dreaming

  4. coonandfriends says: Nov 19, 2010 12:50 AM

    Squint real hard and Jay Cutler even looks little like Rex Grossman.

    Even though you didn’t mean to be, you’re actually correct Greg. Jay Cutler looks very little like Rex Grossman. On a different note I understand your horrible writing style. Your constant screw ups would make sense if you’re sitting there squinting real hard while you write these articles.

  5. snarkygurl says: Nov 19, 2010 1:07 AM

    greenmamba12 says:
    Nov 19, 2010 12:45 AM
    AHAHAHAHAH PLAYOFFS?!!?

    They held a thrid string QB down, Congrats

    ===================
    Better than them losing to a “thrid” string QB. Isn’t it great when a team can capitalize on the opposing team’s weaknesses? If I’m not mistaken, that’s the name of the game.

  6. pigpenrapeswomen says: Nov 19, 2010 1:15 AM

    Bears defense is awesome, but I wouldn’t necessarily take too much from this as Tyler Thigpen couldn’t hit the ocean tonight. He is just AWFUL. But congrats to the Bears, they look like they are in the running for a wildcard spot or even the division championship.

  7. pervyoccam says: Nov 19, 2010 1:29 AM

    If I squint my eyes, Cutler looks like Alec Baldwin.

    A. B. C.

    A- Always
    B- Be
    C- Cutler.

  8. snarkygurl says: Nov 19, 2010 1:42 AM

    Hey 3G…Lovie made the comment re: the Bears’ record you quote as tongue in cheek. It’s been noted numerous times not only on PFT but other more creditable news sources. Of course you don’t know what creditable means do you?

  9. frankvzappa says: Nov 19, 2010 2:03 AM

    defense definitely can win championships, but i dont think the 85 bears could have won a single playoff game with Jay Cutler at the helm

  10. bearsfan63 says: Nov 19, 2010 3:07 AM

    Look for Da Bears to finish 11-5 win their division host a home game after playoff bye and then who knows anythings possible when your playing in Chicago in January

  11. brianmatusz17 says: Nov 19, 2010 3:35 AM

    rex grossman sucks, jay cutler sucks and the bears suck!!!!!!! please first round exit if they get that far

  12. norcaleagles says: Nov 19, 2010 3:45 AM

    Im glad the bears got a shutout. It makes for an even bigger story when they face Philly next week. The game has already been moved to the 4pm time slot and will be a nationally televised game. After the Eagles game in Dallas in a few weeks, that will make 6 nationally televised games in a row for the Eagles with 4 of them being in primetime. Come on Haters, you know you’ll be glued to your seats every time they’re on t.v. Admit it. Well, even if you dont, the ratings will show otherwise.

  13. bears354 says: Nov 19, 2010 3:57 AM

    greenmamba12 says:
    Nov 19, 2010 12:45 AM
    AHAHAHAHAH PLAYOFFS?!!?

    They held a thrid string QB down, Congrats
    Their Pitiful offense could only manage 16 points after great field position…..

    Keep Dreaming

    You put the “e” in “ingnant”

  14. tommytd says: Nov 19, 2010 6:22 AM

    Even though you didn’t mean to be, you’re actually correct Greg. Jay Cutler looks very little like Rex Grossman.
    ===================================
    At least Cutler can handle snaps from center. Grossman could never figure that one out! LOL

  15. kenhawk says: Nov 19, 2010 7:08 AM

    Lions fan living in Chicago. Oh Florio.

    “The Bears aren’t that good. The Bills will win.”
    “The Bears beat a bad Bills team.”

    “The Bears aren’t that good. The Vikings will win.”
    “The Bears beat a hapless Vikings team.”

    “The Bears aren’t that good. The Fins will win.”
    “The Bears beat a weakened Dolphins squad.”

    Forget owning up, that’s not Florio’s style. I guess I wonder why Florio and Rosie pick the bad, hapless and weak team every week.

  16. randolph32 says: Nov 19, 2010 8:42 AM

    Not much of a game, but give the Bears credit for winning…for the last 3 years they would have found a way to lose it, even a month ago, considering their losses to Seattle and Washington.

  17. dmretrogames says: Nov 19, 2010 8:54 AM

    The Bears have a good D, but look at their schedule. They’ve played a bunch of tomato cans, including a 3rd string QB getting the ball from a guard last night.

    I’d wait a few weeks before annointing this group as the next 1985 team.

  18. dmretrogames says: Nov 19, 2010 8:56 AM

    Romo and Rodgers are the two best QBs they’ve faced, and both went for 300+.

  19. comeonnowguys says: Nov 19, 2010 9:23 AM

    “Romo and Rodgers are the two best QBs they’ve faced, and both went for 300+.”

    True, but their defensive scheme is bend-but-don’t-break.” They’re going to give up yards. The problem is over the past few years, it’s been a whole lot of “break” and almost no “bend.”

    Still not sure they’re a playoff team, but that’s why they play the games. We’ll find out.

    Even on the remote chance they get in, it’s going to take so much just to survive with their schedule over the remainder of the season, that they’re almost assured a one-and-done.

  20. ruvelligwebuike says: Nov 19, 2010 9:25 AM

    This is the worst 7-3 team in the history of the league and there is no real argument otherwise. Look at their wins:

    Detroit- Nice catch, Calvin.
    Dallas- Terrible.
    Green Bay- Outgained 3-1.
    Carolina- Terrible…and without Steve Smith, DeAngelo and Stewart.
    Buffalo- Terrible
    Minnesota- Grandpa Terrible
    Miami- Tyler Thigpen and no Brandon Marshall.

    Look at their schedule. Jets, Pats, at Lambeau, Philly, at Detroit and at Minny. I don’t think they’ll win another game.

  21. wannabear says: Nov 19, 2010 9:34 AM

    The only thing I want for xmas is for Florio to keep picking against the Bears. Then WE all Bears fans would have a good xmas leading to a spectacular January.

  22. mywifegavemecrabtree says: Nov 19, 2010 9:52 AM

    They are who we thought they were!!!!

  23. timtanium says: Nov 19, 2010 10:23 AM

    worst 7-3 team ever…. just stay off the bandwagon when it comes around in the next few weeks. THAT MEANS YOU FLORIO!!! Its ok though, I love this site, i love watching you eat your picks every week… Bills over Bears, Vikes crush Bears, Hometeam on short week Fins over Bears… keep em coming Florio and those ESPN guys are gonna pass you in no time.

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