I was asked to give one good reason why the Chicago Bears can't win the NFC North Division this year. My answer was simple.
It's not the lack of wide receivers. It's not the aging offensive line.
It's the defense.
The Bears used to be in the discussion for best defense the past few seasons, but last year they were 21st in the league in yards per game and 16th in points per game.
What's unbelievable is that those rankings are for the fifth best rushing defense in 2008. That's for a team that is usually far more pesky on quarterbacks than on running backs.
So what happened?
No health. The Chicago defensive backfield was a turn-style of young players and free agents.
No pressure. The Bears didn't have a single player with more than six sacks. Safety Kevin Payne had more sacks than Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs combined...with one.
No heart. Did you watch that defense?
Week 2: Up 17-6 late in the third quarter against Carolina. Lost 20-17.
Week 3: Up 24-14 in the fourth quarter against Tampa. Lost 27-24 in OT.
Week 6: Ball on their own 43 yard line with 11 seconds remaining, Atlanta completed a wide open 26-yard pass to give them a game-winning field goal opportunity.
Week 17: A win would have eventually secured a Wild Card selection for the playoffs, but instead lost a 10 point lead by giving up 21 straight points.
That is not inspired defense. With the game on the line. The playoffs at stake.
Top defenses should beg for those opportunities. Winning half of those games would have put the Bears a game ahead of the division champion Vikings.
I did not see that attitude in the 2008 Bears defense. For Chicago to win the division, or even make the playoffs as a Wild Card team, they must approach those games with that attitude.
To steal a line from Damn Yankees, "You gotta have heart. All you really need is heart."