Do you remember how good the 2005-2006 Chicago Bears defense was? The defense that came out of nowhere, led by Brian Urlacher, Charles Tillman, Tommie Harris, and Nathan Vasher? The defense that led the Bears to two NFC North Division titles, and one Super Bowl appearance?
Well, the 2010 Chicago Bears defense knows they aren’t that good. But how good can they be?
This years defense features some of those key players from when the defense was dominant, including Urlacher, Tillman, Harris, Chris Harris, and Lance Briggs. The Bears also brought in key players through free agency and the trade like Zack Bowman and Julius Peppers.
The Bears defense through two weeks has played well. Not dominant, but well enough to play a role in the Bears 2-0 start.
The question is, can the Bears defense be dominant again?
After struggling all of last season, the Bears got their captain back in Brian Urlacher. Urlacher has looked like he's regained most of what he lost, making plays in both of the Bears' wins. Urlacher was obviously a huge loss for the Bears last season, and it’s showing how good they can really be at full strength.
The Bears defense currently ranks 12th in overall defense this season, giving up 289 yards per game. While the Bears are giving up 261 yards through the air, impressively, they are first overall in rushing yards allowed, with 28 per game.
If this team wants to be dominant, they are going to need more pressure up front. The Bears are 28th in total sacks, with just two. Getting to the quarterback is key, especially for this Bears' secondary. Forcing the quarterback into quick decisions and making mistakes leads to turnovers. Turnovers lead to offense, which can lead to points. You get the idea.
By acquiring Julius Peppers, the Bears showed they were addressing a problem on their defense. They just need Peppers to produce. Getting Tommie Harris involved, as well, is key. He hasn’t been the same since his 2006 monster season.
The linebackers are the strength of the team, and what the defense will rely on. With a core of Urlacher, Briggs, and Tinoisamoa, the linebackers' physical play and mentality to get into the backfield will surge the Bears defense this season.
The experience is there for the Bears. With veterans on the team who have played in a Super Bowl, they know what it takes to get there. It can't be all on the offense to carry this team.
Turnovers are what fuels this defense. Whether it's the interceptions, or the stripping of the football, Chicago knows how to get turnovers. If a team is successful in doing this, they will strive all year.
The Bears face a a schedule that should work into the defense's favor in the next few weeks. Aside from the Green Bay and the New York Giants games, the team faces some struggling offenses. They take on Seattle, Detroit, Carolina, Buffalo, Miami, and Washington.
It gets tough after that, though. The offenses they will go up against include Minnesota, Green Bay, New York Jets, and New England. The Bears defense, especially against these opponents, will need to be on point down the stretch.
If the Bears want to get to the playoffs, they will need a good defense to compliment the so far surging offense. It’s up to them to play to their expectations.