I’m obsessed with the offense, primarily because there’s something to be obsessed with. But upon second viewing of last night’s ballgame, there’s a lot to discuss on the other side of the ball.
1. Pisa Tinoisamoa and Kevin Payne will give the Bears better protection against tight ends and screen games than the club has had in a long time. Both have a perfect mix of instinct and closing speed – essential for an element of the passing attack that usually comes right off the snap. Most importantly, they are sure tacklers.
2. The Bears don’t have a dominating edge rusher (see: Richard Dent) but they do have three solid defensive ends that give offensive tackles one hell of a hard time. Football analysts are fond of saying that a good pass rush can compensate for a lack of ability on the third level. With the Bears, the opposite might also be true. If the secondary can keep tight coverage for an extra second or two, the three ends might see a dramatic increase in sack totals.
3. Tommie Harris played pretty well last night but I think the second best defensive tackle on the field was Matt Toeaina. Not only disruptive in the middle, Big Toe bounced off blocks and jumped in on gang tackles down field. Sometimes you can make an impact with pure hustle and I thought Matt did that last night.
4. Al Afalava. Practice hero? Because he was invisible last night.
5. Tru McBride. Awful? He was far too visible last night.
6. Hey Nathan Vasher. To quote the late, great Warren Zevon, “Hit somebody!” Running up to where tackles are being made and raising your arms confusingly does not a starting cornerback make.
7. Bottom line is this: twenty-one-points. If the defense holds opponents to twenty-one points or less each week, the Bears are winning double-digit games.