The Chicago Bears are looking to fix their defensive woes, and in order to do so, coach Lovie Smith has decided to bench his two starting safeties.
They will opt to start Major Wright and Chris Conte.
Throughout the week, the Bears coaching staff hinted at the fact they were going to make some drastic changes, specifically on the defensive side of the ball.
Yesterday afternoon, Meriweather, a two-time Pro Bowler, and Chris Harris had separate meetings and learned their fate.
After failing to play up to par in Monday night’s loss to the Detroit Lions, the Bears coaching staff finally said enough was enough. Both Harris and Meriweather caught heavy criticism after the game, due to the fact both were involved in giving up big plays to the Lions.
The Bears prepared all week in order to prevent such plays, but it was in fact quite the opposite on the night. Calvin Johnson was able to easily shake off both safeties en route to a 73-yard touchdown catch from Matt Stafford.
Jahvid Best, the second year running back out of Cal, also had himself night to remember.
Best ran for a career-high 163 yards off of 12 carries, an inexcusable margin for the usually stout defense of the Bears.
Brian Urlacher was irate after the game, telling the media that “this kid had his way with us (tonight)”.
With 5:20 left in the third quarter, Best ran 88 yards untouched for a score, with both Meriweather and Harris failing to even attempt at stopping the run.
And with that run, Harris and Meriweather essentially sealed their demise.
Wright started the year alongside Harris as the other starting safety, but a head injury in the week two loss to the New Orleans Saints has kept him out of the lineup since.
The Bears are hoping to get more out of Wright and Conte, a second year player and rookie, respectively.
But Wright has failed to impress as well during his time as a starter, and many see him failing to live up to his potential. Known as a "hard-hitter" with a good eye for the ball, Wright has missed tackles and was questionable in his coverage during the first two games.
Harris has been sidelined the last three games, and upon his return he looked out of sync and unfocused. His failure to track Johnson up the middle of the field was the main reason the former Georgia Tech standout was able to effortlessly score.
Meriweather has been under a microscope lately, after punishing receivers the last few weeks with violent helmet-to-helmet hits. During the Monday night game, he inexplicably leveled Lion’s receiver Nate Burleson after the Bears defense intercepted a Stafford pass.
The league is cracking down on violent hits and the former Patriots player is doing nothing to better his name. He has established a nasty reputation throughout the league, and even has Chicago fans criticizing his dirty play.
The Bears defense ranks among the worst in the league, and they are unable to stop either the run or the pass. They have given up numerous big plays to every opponent, and it is starting to bring questioning from fans and experts.
Many suggest most of the defensive players are getting too old; a claim Brian Urlacher is quick to dispel. But upon examining the performances of late, one cannot fully disagree with the idea.
The saga involving Lance Briggs’ contract will certainly pick up speed as the season goes on, and if the defense fails to impress, what is Briggs going to do?
Also, having Wright and Conte start at safety against the strong running game of the Vikings will not keep fans at ease. Adrian Peterson has been his usually marauding self, running rampant so far this season.
Peterson is coming off a three touchdown day against the Arizona Cardinals, and the Vikings rank third in the league in rushing.
The Bears need to find answers on defense because they are leaky and are prone to give up big plays at any given second. Lovie Smith will tell you that the Cover 2 scheme is designed to give up a few big plays here and there, but when do they draw the line?
The health of Julius Peppers will also be a concern as Sunday approaches. While the team says he will play, having Peppers in the lineup is crucial for the defense, because there is no replacing him.
With Sunday’s game set to be do or die for the Bears, the team is revamping and looking to erase the embarrassment of last Monday night.
**UPDATE: Julius Peppers is "doubtful" for the game Sunday.