The Chicago Bears are 7-3. It’s incredible to think about. This team was 5-11 last year and given barely a chance to make .500 by experts in 2018.
Now here they are. They’ve won back-to-back divisional games and are in firm command of the NFC North with games against the Lions and Giants next up. They could well be 9-3 by the beginning of December and on the cusp of their first playoff berth since 2010. There are so many people responsible for making this happen. GM Ryan Pace for building the roster. Head coach Matt Nagy for developing it quickly.
Most of the love though is going to the defense. It’s becoming quite the special unit. Name a defensive category this season and they’re almost certain to rank in the top 5:
- 77.8 rushing yards per game (1st)
- 3.47 yards per carry (1st)
- 32 sacks (4th)
- 18 interceptions (1st)
- 17 forced fumbles (1st)
- 79.4 opposing QB rating (1st)
Amidst the euphoria of the return of the Monsters of the Midway, some people continue to be annoyed about the Bears offense. It didn’t have the best evening last week against the Minnesota Vikings. Mitch Trubisky threw two interceptions. Tarik Cohen had a bad fumble. At this point, people are complaining that the defense is carrying the offense.
Here’s the thing. Yes it is. That’s because it’s supposed to.
The Chicago Bears defense is great because it had time to become that way
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What people need to understand is great things in the NFL don’t happen overnight. They take time to build. This defense didn’t suddenly become elite in the course of one offseason. This is something Pace began building all the way back in 2015. It started with the hiring of defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and the drafting of nose tackle Eddie Goldman and safety Adrian Amos. From there it was a methodical adding of more pieces year after year.
Look down the starting lineup this year. All but two of the Bears’ primary starters (Khalil Mack and Roquan Smith) had at least one full year of experience in Fangio’s system. Meanwhile, there isn’t a single starter who has more than 10 games of experience in Nagy’s new offense. Demanding they execute at the same speed as the defense is the height of foolishness.
They don’t have near the mastery of the scheme. They’re still thinking too much and it shows most often when they play well-coached defenses. The only way to execute against those is at top speed. Trubisky, Tarik Cohen, Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, and Trey Burton just aren’t there yet. They will be with more time. Until then people will just have to suck it up and let the defense be the focal point of this team as it was always going to be.