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Bears Mon Dec 03 2012

Bears Defense Cracking Under Pressure

Thumbnail image for GB bears icon.pngThe defense didn't get it done. That part was obvious. And the blueprint to beating the Bears has now been tried and tested. The recipe can be broken down into two simple ingredients.

The dominant ground game comes first. Running the football effectively against the Bears makes it nearly impossible for the linebackers and safeties to sit back in the Cover 2 defense they're so comfortable running in the second half of games. It forces the playmakers to continuously make decisions, and can wear out a defense that, let's be honest, isn't young.

The second ingredient is a competent quarterback. One that has patience, minimizes mistakes, and can handle his business outside the pocket. A guy that isn't fazed by the names Peppers, Briggs, or Tillman (I'm leaving Urlacher off there -- it's become abundantly clear his career is on the rails).

Or, of course, if you're the Green Bay Packers...

But look at the losses the Bears have suffered three of the last four weeks. Houston, San Francisco, and Seattle all have the prerequisite skills. Arian Foster, Frank Gore, and Marshawn Lynch all rank in the top-10 in rushing, and each of their offensive lines are known for their road grading abilities. Matt Schaub, Colin Kaepernick (though he's still TBD), and Russell Wilson aren't slouches either.

The Bears offense was serviceable yesterday. Hell, you might even say they played well considering their average starting field position sans the Lynch fumble on the opening drive was the 15-yard line. Jay Cutler and company (re: Brandon Marshall) moved the ball consistently and were able to flip the field on a number of occasions, but the defense simply couldn't contain Lynch and Wilson.

Call them slow. Call them old. Call them hurt. All reasons apply, and it's not like we didn't see this coming. It's been a major question mark for the Bears defense the past few years. When is the core group going to start breaking down?

The end looked to be staved off during the first half of the season, when Briggs was a monster in stuffing runs, Tillman was punching out fumbles, and Peppers was forcing (and sometimes beating) double teams. The schedule was easier then. Tougher teams expose weaknesses not previously seen. And if the Bears aren't creating turnovers, the defense struggles.

When was the last time you saw a quarterback not named Rodgers dismantle a Bears defense that had a lead like Wilson did yesterday? What's worse yet is that he's a rookie. Even scarier - he did it twice.

Can the Bears still make the playoffs? Absolutely, and chances are they will. Can they reach the Super Bowl? Sure, because any team that reaches the postseason has a shot if a few bounces go its way.

But the truth hurts. The teams they're playing are more talented, and the injuries to older players are piling up.

The fact is this: The 2012 Bears can no longer lean on their defense to win games.

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