84 Comments

Across The Middle: Vic’s Right, Bears D Needs to Be Better

| January 31st, 2018

After weeks of Chicago’s media and fans singing Vic Fangio’s praises, the re-hired defensive coordinator’s message at his re-introductory press conference was simple, clear and correct: his defenses have not been good enough.

Thanks largely to playing games against the Browns and Bengals (their averages through 12 games would’ve had them 16th in yardage and 18th in scoring), the Bears defense snuck into the top 10 in yardage and scoring bythe end of the year. It’s been a hell of a climb when you consider where they were before Fangio came to Chicago, but they’re still not good enough. While the scoring and yardage numbers are nice, the Bears were still closer to the middle of the pack in takeaways (13th), third-down defense (20th) and DVOA (14th).

Although they had injuries at the end of the year – when their defense actually climbed the rankings – there’s no reason why they shouldn’t have been better defensively.



One of the biggest problems has been the way the team has started.

In three years with Fangio, the Bears have given up scores on at least one of their first two possessions thirty times, including nine last year. While the offense was going through growing pains with a rookie quarterback and injuries at wide receiver, they were also forced to play from behind early in games. That’s a losing formula.

When the Bears got stops on this initial drives, they usually won, sporting an 11-7 in those games over the last three years.

Giving up early scores wasn’t a Fox problem either. In four years with San Francisco, Fangio’s 49ers gave up scores on the first two possessions 29 times. That certainly isn’t as bad as 30 times in three years with the Bears, but that’s largely because of the 2015 season in which they only allowed early scores twice. In his three other seasons there, they allowed the opponent to score on one of their first two possessions at least eight times.

But Fangio’s San Francisco teams were good enough to overcome that, the Bears haven’t been and they probably won’t be in 2018. They still need their defense to set the tone and be the catalyst. Vic is a fine coach, but — as he said himself — if he were as good as some are suggesting, their defense would be better and they would’ve won more games.

Fangio said the key to improvement will be getting their “supposedly good” players to play better. He has a point. While I don’t see Akiem Hicks getting any better, Leonard Floyd should be better and needs to stay on the field. Eddie Goldman can do more, so can Eddie Jackson and Adrian Amos.

Still, the Bears need more talent if they’re going to get to an elite level. They could use another pass rusher and absolutely must find somebody who can help force takeaways.

Their biggest need, however, is a better plan to start the game.

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  • catfish44

    Judging a teams offense or defense only by just yardage gained or given up, as the NFL does, simply is a very poor yardstick. troy aikman’s efficiency ratings, seven each for offense and defense, present a much truer picture.
    Aikman Combined Ratings Through Week 17, 2017 follow for the bears: offense 25th Bears 74.2, defense 6th Bears 73.6. the bears combined rank is: 17th Bears 147.8. they have the worst record of any team rated 20th or better. it appears, by these standards, that the bears were a better team than their record indicates. the bears defense is rated higher than the Seahawks, broncos, titans, panthers, falcons, patriots, saints, steelers, and cardinals. one thing i see from these stats is a team poised to make
    a jump in it’s won lost record next year. they still need a very good/ great off season in the draft and especially free agency. i hope for 8-8 or 9-7.and much more in subsequent years. the big factor?? is pace good enough to find, and bring in, the needed difference makers? to me, the jury is still very much out on pace.

    http://www.aikman.com/AikmanEfficiencyRatings/tabid/274/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/130/FINAL-2017-AIKMAN-RATINGS.aspx

    • Irish Sweetness

      Bill Parcells: “You are what your record says you are.”

      And Vic blaming his players for flaccidness stuck in my craw like a burning coal.

      Maybe they would have played better if you’d let ’em, Coach!

      • catfish44

        losing your mind, or drunk?? lol.

        • Irish Sweetness

          9.5 years sober!

      • evantonio

        How did you sneak the three buckets in? I have a hard enough time bringing in my flask.

    • BearDown100393

      The Bears went 5-11. All that mattered.

      A division title and beating Green Bay next season. All that matters.

      • catfish44

        you can’t handle someone else’s post. fine, just read your own.

        • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

          If you can’t handle someone disagreeing with your post then DON’T write it in a public forum. Just keep it to yourself or write it down in your diary that has a unicorn crapping rainbows on the cover.

          • Irish Sweetness

            The twins would just die for a book like that!

    • catfish44

      for the record, I must admit that aikman and i had a long love affair through the nineties. my loins still ache for his touch. he was my one true love, i tried to replace him with cutler in years past but that was only a physical relationship.

      • Irish Sweetness

        Ha. I hated that fucker from day one. The clean types. Euch.

    • AlbertInTucson

      The Patriots D ranked piss poor in YARDS allowed but excellent in POINTS allowed.

  • Irish Sweetness

    Do you give Glennon’s eighteen mill to Cousins instead?

    Yes, yes you do.

    • Scharfinator

      If we didn’t (ostensibly) have our #1 QB for the next few years, I’m with you 100%

      Putting Cousin’s on the bench is probably a recipe for a poor QB room.

      • willbest

        Cousins is a guy you pair with Philly or Minny’s D and win a SB with.

        • evantonio

          Let’s send him to Jacksonville. It would be fun to see that team with a QB, and I would make them my AFC team of interest. You know, not a team I actively root for, but one I can watch when the Bears are up 47-3 at the half.

          • Dis Guy Trublinsky (Johnnywad)

            Anywhere but MIN.

          • evantonio

            UNLESS he’s one of those Matt Cassel types who looks promising then shits the bed.

            Of course Cousins has a much larger sample size and isn’t Matt Cassel.

            Who would be a good comparison? What QB showed real talent and promise for a few years, then went somewhere and sucked and screwed that team for years to come? Cutler? (ducks and runs)

          • Irish Sweetness

            Does Bortles stay as backup? Can he? Sign another receiver, that would be a team, damn.

        • catfish44

          i believe cousins will go to denver.

          • Irish Sweetness

            Yeah, Elway will be right up his ass for sure.

        • BerwynBomber

          I highly doubt PHI would be interested in Cousins given that Wentz is younger and better. Unless they think Wentz will never recover from ACL.

          If I’m MIN, I resign Keenum or Bradford and then try to draft Rudolph.

          Zimmer strikes me as a guy you make a long-term commitment with and even if he loses some key D personnel he will always manage to trot a decent D onto the field. He just needs a reliable, long-term QB.

          My guess is Cousins ends up in DEN or JAX. Or maybe ARI.

          • willbest

            sorry, I didn’t put the “a” in there. Not necessarily those defenses. But a top 5 defense in general. Cousins is better than a game manager, but he isn’t going to Rodger’s it up and carry a team to victory.

            I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in Minny either. Their QB situation is complicated.

          • AlbertInTucson

            Arizona will be/should be a player in the Cousins sweepstakes.

            They have a solid D, David Johnson and NFL receivers.

            I believe they currently have exactly NOBODY under contract at QB.

          • BearDown100393

            The suggestion that the Eagles would chase Cousins is dumb.

        • BearDown100393

          How quickly Carson Wentz is forgotten.

          • willbest

            He isn’t forgotten

          • BearDown100393

            So it makes sense to you that the Eagles dump Wentz and sign Cousins. Fair enough but why would they do that?

          • willbest

            FFS, I already addressed this.

      • Irish Sweetness

        Love me some MT, but Kirk + MT = a QB roster. For a year, I’ll see where that took us. With either guy you’ve got a shot.

    • willbest

      Cousins isn’t going to make less $40 million guaranteed, and probably over $50 million.

      • Stafford signed a 5 year, $135M deal with $60.5M guaranteed at signing.

        Cousins as a FA has far more leverage than Stafford-who signed 1 year before his deal was up-ever did. He’s going to sign the richest contract in NFL history, and by a wide margin, I would guess.

        The only way that doesn’t happen is if he decides to prioritize winning over money and takes a bit less to go to DEN or JAX instead of the max $$ to go somewhere shitty. The record-breaking offers will be there if he wants them.

        SF gonna have to tag Jimmy G, and his next contract is gonna be enormous too.

        • willbest

          Cousin’s isn’t Stafford though. Stafford has the ability to pull games out of his ass. Cousin’s doesn’t really have that ability. He is going to get paid, but I don’t think he is looking at Stafford or Carr level money. Plus wasn’t the cap on Stafford ridiculous when he got his extension because Detriot has been playing musical chairs with him Suh and Megatron?

          • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

            It does not matter if Cousins is better than Stafford. QB needy teams will pay. Houston gave Oz a ridiculous contract, We guaranteed Glennon 18mill. Cutler was the Highest paid for a short while and he sure as hell was not better than the top 10 qbs in the league.

          • It’s all about leverage. He’s the first good QB to hit unrestricted FA without being ancient in a long time.

          • Irish Sweetness

            The market will prolly make him the highest paid player just because.

      • Irish Sweetness

        Well, this….. but a girl can dream.

    • evantonio

      Glennon isn’t making no 18 million this year. Now, if we could’ve given Cousins 18 mm last season, I would’ve signed on the dotted line without even pretending to read the agreement.

      • Irish Sweetness

        I think his tag was 25M or something crazy.

  • Alex

    Draft:

    [1] *Tremaine Edmunds (ILB), [4] Duke Ejiofor and [5] B J Hill (NT)

    *I’d rather get Tremaine Edmunds (ILB) or Marcus Davenport (OLB) on a trade back in the 1st round whilst also picking up an extra 2nd rounder. Who knows if that’s possible. I think 8 is a little higher for Davenport and possibly Edmunds whose a little raw but could be dominant in the middle alongside Trevathan.

    Fangio’s defence always looked good with Willis and Bowman in their prime. Trevathan and Edmunds could be a very strong inside pairing. Alternatively sign Hitchens or Bowman in FA to add to the rotation and hope Davenport becomes what people think he could be at OLB.

    FA:

    David Irving (DE), Shaquil Barrett (OLB) or Aaron Lynch (OLB), Jeremiah Attaochu (OLB),
    Dion Jordan (OLB), Bashaud Breeland (CB)

    Notable re-signs: Kendall Fuller and Eddie Goldman.

    The Bears need pass rushers as I’d cut McPhee and Young though I’d likely re-sign Houston and Acho on top of the above. The Eagles have pass rushers everywhere. Irving would make the front 3 MASSIVE. Barrett, Attaochu and Jordan all offer significant upside at reasonable prices. I like the idea of Barrett and Floyd working the edges together though Barrett is a RFA. Breeland and Fuller make a decent combo who can make plays.

    The players above should provide an upgrade in both quality and depth on the defensive side of the ball.

    • Alex

      Sorry Kyle Fuller NOT his BROTHER!

      • CanadaBear

        Alex, not trying to be a pain in the ass but you can edit your original post with the button at the bottom of the post.

        • Alex

          Ah yes! Apologies.

          • CanadaBear

            No worries! Hope the Beloved sign some good FA’s. Esp a couple of the top tier guys.

          • Alex

            I’d love the players above picked up in FA and the draft. I think they’d help the Bears D get into the Top Tier.

    • leftcoastdave

      Agree on the need as well as potential for getting a hard hitting ILB as well as Edge, but think ILB better suited in the draft with Edge being a FA pickup as well as developmental draft pick.

      Two FA Chiefs we should want are G Zach Fulton and wide receiver Albert Wilson. Nagy knows them and they know the system.

      As far as a trade goes, my wet dream is that the Bills get hot over a player at the 8. They have two later firsts, two later seconds and a third. Our 8 is worth more than their two late firsts on the value chart. Three picks in that range would be killer if you consider our fifth in the second. Then again, give them that for their two late second picks.

      • Alex

        Tremaine Edmunds would play ILB for the Bears alongside Trevathan. I’d like the Bears to attack the OLB issue in both FA and the Draft.

        I think the Bears will likely go after both Fulton and Wilson. If they do then I’d prefer Fulton at C and Whitehair can move to LG to replace Sitton. Grasu can ‘jog on’. The Bears would then have 3 people capable of playing both OG and C if Kush remains on the roster which I hope he does.

        De’Anthony Thomas could be another interesting pick up from the Chiefs. A very good ST returner and could be worked into the RB and slot rotation.

        A trade with the Bills would be ideal as I am sure Marcus Davenport won’t go before the late first or early 2nd. Having said that if Pace decides Edmunds or an OL is the pick at 8 then so be it. I trust Pace in the draft.

        • Irish Sweetness

          OLB, yes. If they want to swing protection Floyd’s way, hit ’em with Wilbur Marshall.

    • Irish Sweetness

      Boldness would be shaving Nanny and Willie off the roster and developing two young guys.
      Acho’s worth his spot.

      • Alex

        McPhee’s cap hit is huge for his playing time. He should be cut. Young is old now and so is Houston. I’d just rather keep Houston. He can also play 3T in the nickel.

        Houston would be my veteran presence at OLB. I like Acho for what else he brings.

        OLB:

        Leonard Floyd, Shaquil Barrett, Lamarr Houston, Dion Jordan, Jeremiah Attaochu,
        Duke Ejiofor, Sam Acho (7).

        One too many I guess but provides options at the beginning of the season and apart from Barrett the other two FAs or Acho won’t cost much. Can’t have enough pass rushing options.

  • Sactowns#1

    The Washington Racists agreeing to trade for Smith and sign him to an extension has to be one of the dumbest moves by any franchise in recent sports history. Couldn’t happen to a better franchise.

    • BearDown100393

      “Some how…Some way…they will blame this on me. No doubt,” wrote Robert Griffin III.

      Almost completely forgot about that guy.

      • Sactowns#1

        If he really wrote that then that’s awesome.

    • Irish Sweetness

      It’s legendary.

  • BerwynBomber

    Read an interesting article on Belichick and the Pats yesterday.

    Apparently 19 of their 53 players are undrafted guys, which comes out to a whopping 36%.

    The article posited that the Pats have the purest player meritocracy in the NFL and a large part of that is due to Belichick functioning as a GM who does not invest his ego or reputation in draft picks.

    In other words, if he thinks his 1st or 2nd round guy is a bust he moves on quickly. There are no “play him” mandates issued from an upstairs office.

    Also, if he thinks a young, talented guy will eventually be a contract nightmare he is willing to move from him quickly too, This, IIRC, happened with Jamie Collins.

    Author suggested that not only is Belichick the best HC in the league, he is arguably its best GM because of his system (except where Kraft gets involved).

    • they also moved on quickly from Chandler Jones, which shocked me. He led the NFL in sacks this year while they have a bunch of nobodies rushing the passer.

      • AlbertInTucson

        Jones is one of the FEW guys Bill let loose of who has gone on to perform at a high level for another team.

        • Yep. He’s generally been very good at knowing when to move on.

          And from the reporting, it sounds like this offseason is when he wanted to move on from Brady. It will be interesting to see how that plays out with Brady the next few years.

          • AlbertInTucson

            Yeah, have to figure he was over-ruled about Jimmy G.

            They apparently didn’t miss Jamie Collins this year and a lot of his other “Time to move this guy” choices, like Richard Seymour, were never as effective after Bill dumped them.

            Brady out?

            They win with Matt Cassel or Jimmy G.

            Lose Wes Welker?

            Enter Julian Edelman.

            No Edelman?

            Poof! Here’s Danny Amendola.

            No Gronk?

            Meh. They win Super Bowls with or, mostly, without him.

            As bad as the Bears have been at personnel decisions over the years, that’s how GOOD Belicheck is.

            Once upon a time the Bears had one of those top personnel guys: Jim Finks.

          • Irish Sweetness

            His roster moves are brilliant.

      • Katherine

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    • Irish Sweetness

      I’m re-watching Bill Walsh’s AFL.

      The start tells it all. A bunch of HC legends looking at his book and going “Yep, well, this is the book”. And then you see Bellifat saying the same thing “I learned all the behind the scenes stuff you can’t learn anywhere else from that book.

      He managed to have Montana and Young on the same roster. He invented the offense we’ll be running in 2018. His QBs were manhandled back in the day and there are no asterisks beside his Lombardis.

      If Bellifat gets his 6th, good luck to him, but he’s just standing on the shoulders of giants.

  • Doc Nitty

    mmmmmmbearssssss

    • CanadaBear

      DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOC! How ya doing man? Still blissfully in love?

      • Doc Nitty

        What up my Canadian brother?

        Hell yeah. Let’s just say this past two years has been so ridiculously filled with dramatic twists and turns that you will have to wait for the Novel to hear the blissful/painful/gut-wrenching roller coaster of a story.

        It will be called The Professor and his Lovely. I’ve only just begun writing it. Look for it in bookstores near you!

        It has been a serious mother fucker of a couple years. But I’m stronger than ever, lost 40 lbs and now rock a porn stache San Elliott and Tom Selleck would rip each other to shreds for!

        How you all?

        • CanadaBear

          Holy Crap! 40 lbs! Good on ya! I had a porn stache for 20+ years! I’m doing well. Got both knees replaced. What a game changer. Before my surgeries I could walk a few blocks and had to sit down for a while to let the pain subside. Couldn’t stand up for more than a few minutes. Now I’m back to walking the dog for an hour + and getting around just fine. I’m less involved in the music scene on the Island (I stepped down from the board of the local Blues Society) but still go out and see live music on a regular basis. Playing piano a little bit trying to get some chops back and mostly loving the retired life.

    • Irish Sweetness

      Duuuuude.

      (throws Interstellar Overdrive vinyl on the turntable, sparks joint and hands to Doc)

      Yeah. New trim or what?

  • To me, Fangio’s D needs to make stops on crucial.

    The Pats Jags game is a perfect ex.

    The Jags , the best D in most categories, allowed a huge play to Lewis that would’ve buried them.

    Luckily for them, he got stripped , totally changing field position.

    But then the Pats stopped them . 3 and out.

    Rest is history.

    Point is, when games are on the line, that’s when Ds gotta step up.

    It always felt like when Bears needed a big stop late in games, the other team would just keep extending drives and bleeding the clock.

    Fangio has to improve in that, tho i don’t know if he’s Patricia smart or aggressive

    • CanadaBear

      They always look smarter with better players! He’s not super aggressive but he does keep people guessing as far as who’s rushing. When we had guys like CD that would never get to the QB or go sailing by without laying a hand on them, why blitz? With better players I think Fangio will take a few more chances. I think there are more innovative guys around but I’d say he’s a top 10 DC all things being equal.

      • BearDown100393

        Barry Switzer was never a genius but smart enough not to change Jimmy’s Cowboys.

    • BearDown100393

      Fangio goes to the chalkboard and scrawls with chalk: Need to Make Stops Crucial!
      Defense reacts: Ohhhhh……..

      Bears go on to win Super Bowl.

      All is right again with the Galaxy.

    • AlbertInTucson

      Got this analysis from a guest on the Steve Czaban podcast I listen to out of D.C.

      The Jags basically handed the AFC title game to NE by going total “Cocoon” on offense late in that game.

      When the game was still theirs to win they ran 4 straight times on first down for a grand total of about 3 or 4 yards.

      Then, on 2nd a long, they threw low percentage, deep passes to put them in 3rd and long.

      They only came close to converting one of those last 3rd downs.

      After seeing how the Jags play-called with the lead in the 4th quarter against NE, I’m betting Mike Timlin is pounding his head against a wall for deciding to onside kick the week before because, even with an iffy Steeler D, the Jags, deep in their own end would have, likely, play-called themselves into a 3 and out and would have had to punt the ball back to the Steelers.

      • BearDown100393

        The Jags bortled themselves to defeat.

        • AlbertInTucson

          Bortles stats were better than Brady’s that day.

          I’m not gonna run out and buy Bortles Stock but he had them in position to win.

          That loss is squarely in Doug Marrone’s lap.

  • I agree about needing to figure out the early game stuff better. And for that I look back to that 4 game stretch in October, when the D played way better than the rest of the year.

    MIN got its first points in the 2nd quarter, and only had 3 points at halftime.
    BAL didn’t score until a FG just before half, again 3 points at halftime.
    CAR didn’t score until a FG late in the 2nd quarter, again 3 points at halftime.
    NO got an early TD and had 14 at halftime

    In 3 of 4 games, the D held early, which gave the offense time to find its footing and compete (relatively speaking) without having to play from behind.

    • BearDown100393

      How often did Bears put points on the board during their 1st offensive series of the game?

    • BerwynBomber

      I’d put an asterisk next to that MIN game as Bradford was the Bears MVP that first half. Soon as Keenum was inserted in the second half that was a completely different game.

      Also, we played relatively well against NO but 14 in the first half is still an above average point total.

  • AlbertInTucson

    “@DanWetzel
    Fox is going to pay NFL $60 million a game thru 2022 for Thursday Night Football. Stories of the NFLs demise have been greatly exaggerated.”

    “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”- Mark Twain.

    • BearDown100393

      Paul’s dead.

    • willbest

      Considering it features the opening football game and 15 division rivalries and is the 2nd or 3rd most watch event on television each week that isn’t surprising.

  • Katherine

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  • Dr. Johnny Nacho

    Honestly, it’s all about staying healthy. Of course every team deals w/ injuries in the NFL but it is a fact. The teams that stay relatively healthy throughout the year are usually in contention….year after year the IR names pile up. Leonard Floyd for example has played 22 out of 32 possible games to start his career.

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