About the Author
Recent posts by Dan Parr
Jay Cutler's ups and downs, the personnel shuffling and erratic play of the offensive line and Mike Martz's scheme are juicier topics than a defense that has kept the Bears in games almost every week.
It's not the talk of the town like it once was earlier in Lovie Smith's tenure, but the defense is looking like the team's strength. After holding the Vikings to 240 yards and 13 points in a big Week 10 win, the Bears' "D" is ranked fourth in the league, and only the Packers have allowed fewer points per game.
"Going into the season you look at personnel (on defense) and we felt pretty good," Smith said Sunday. "We had a lot of guys that have played at the highest level, so we thought we would be pretty good, but they are showing it each week. They are playing dominating ball at times.
"Of course it's early in the game, but I like where the defense is right now and I think we will be at the end of the season."
Smith's cover-2 zone is bending at times, but not breaking very much and it's playing opportunistically. No team has more takeaways than the Bears, who have 14 interceptions and 10 fumbles recovered. They have caused more than twice as many as turnovers as their Week 11 opponent, the Dolphins, who have 11.
The PFW Spin
The Bears did an excellent job of keeping the Vikings from putting themselves in 2nd-and-short and 3rd-and-short situations. Doing that allowed the Bears to play their strong hand — work out of the base cover-2 and force QB Brett Favre to settle for shorter passes underneath.
The Vikings had 1st-and-10 on 13 different occasions in the second half Sunday, and the Bears held them to gains of three yards or less eight of those 13 times. They only allowed Minnesota to gain more than five yards on first down two times in the final two quarters, and allowed the Vikings to gain just 79 yards in the second half.
If the Bears can keep putting offenses in predictable passing situations on a consistent basis, this defense should continue to thrive. They have the pass rush to force quarterbacks to settle for underneath throws, and the linebackers and defensive backs are doing a good job of flowing to the ball and not allowing receivers to pick up many yards after the catch.