Bears’ defense going back to the basics after faltering vs. Packers

Aaron Jones (33) rushed for 132 yards on 15 carries. (8.8 avg.) and one touchdown against the Bears on Sunday.

Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Bears coach Matt Eberflus and his defensive staff spent much of the offseason, training camp and preseason instilling the H.I.T.S. principle that focuses on hustle and intensity and aggressiveness. But let the record show, the “T” in H.I.T.S. is for takeaways, not tackling. 

So two weeks into the regular season, the Bears had a tackling issue in their 27-10 loss to the Packers on Sunday at Lambeau Field. Poor tackling helped pave the way for the Packers to gain 414 yards, including 203 yards on the ground. According to Pro Football Focus, Jones forced 13 missed tackles by himself. Depending on your definition of a missed tackle, the Bears had 20 or more against Packers. 

Is that a red flag? Or just an early season hiccup for a defense playing at regular-season game speed for only the second time? Eberflus wasn’t going to accept that excuse. But he wasn’t going to freak out about it, either. 

“You’re not tolerant [of that] at all,” Eberflus said. “It’s something we have to correct and we’re going to work tirelessly to get that done. But a lot of times it happens early in the year.”

Eberflus has been here before. In 2019 — his second season as the Colts’ defensive coordinator — poor tackling was the culprit when the Colts allowed 435 yards (7.4 per play) in a 30-24 overtime loss to the Chargers in the season opener. 

“It was early in the season and you just gotta get guys to get up on the runner and get their pads on them at the proper level and then have a strong wrap and run your feet. A lot of times, missed tackles happen because you’re lunging and not getting up on the runners. So, we’re going to work on that [in] individual [Wednesday] and just get better at it.”

Eberflus seemed to get his point across after that 2019 opener. The Colts responded with a sharp performance against the Titans — allowing 243 total yards (4.3 per play) in a 19-17 victory. 

So it figures that the Bears will be on-point defensively against the Texans on Sunday. The Texans are averaging 266.5 yards through two games (4.2 per play) — 29th in the NFL — and 78.5 rushing yards, which ranks 27th. 

“We’ll be better at it,” linebacker Nick Morrow said. “We were in the gaps [against the Packers]. We were there. We fitted up. We just didn’t make the play. That’s execution. I don’t think it’s a mental focus thing. We just didn’t execute well enough.”

Generally, teams that tackle well respond quickly. But in Week 3 of the first season under Eberflus, the Bears have not yet established that they tackle well.

“You’ve got to get back …read more

Source:: Chicago Sun Times


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