Bears’ D not pointing fingers at offense

If Bears defenders have grown frustrated with the offense’s
inability to score, they’re doing a good job of hiding it.

”Sometimes it gets tough, but as a defense you’re out there to
continue to compete and get the ball out and do our job,” strong
safety Craig Steltz said. ”And a lot of times we just continue to
stay focused, not look up at the scoreboard, not worry about what’s
happening on offense and just worry about what’s happening on
defense and do our part.”

That got harder last week when an offensive that managed four
touchdowns in four weeks under quarterback Caleb Hanie had five
turnovers in a 38-14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

”We’ve been on the field more than we would like to the last
four, five weeks,” linebacker Brian Urlacher admitted.

That doesn’t bode well heading in Sunday’s game against Aaron
Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

Rather than point fingers at their offense, though, defensive
players think they could be doing more to create turnovers. In the
last four games, Chicago’s defense produced a turnover a contest.
In the previous four, they forced 17.

”Football is still fun but it has been hard to make plays for
us for some reason,” Urlacher said. ”We’re playing small ball
with these teams. We haven’t given up a lot of points until the
last week. We just fell apart in the second half. We have been
playing decent for the most part. We just need to make some more
plays.”

As Steltz said, just because the Bears’ offense turns the ball
over, it doesn’t mean the defense can’t get it right back.

”When the game’s over, if we create takeaways, get the ball
back to our offense as many times as we can, that’ll put us in a
position to win the ballgame.”

The Bears’ defense now faces a challenge similar to the one that
dragged down the offense – injuries. Starting free safety Chris
Conte went on injured reserve with a foot injury this week and
he’ll likely be replaced by Major Wright. With Wright and Steltz
starting, it will be the eighth different starting safety
combination used by the team.

The defense made a turnaround of sorts when Conte became a
starter and Brandon Meriweather went to the bench earlier this
year. They improved from 29th to 17th in total defense, 17th to
11th in points allowed, and 24th to 15th in interception percentage
during Conte’s nine starts.

”He’s made a lot of good tackles in the open field,” Urlacher
said. ”So has Steltz when Steltz has been in there as well.”

Rodgers is certain to test a Bears secondary that gave up four
completions of 21 yards or longer last week.

”He’s got a hand cannon,” cornerback Charles Tillman said of
the Packers’ quarterback.

The defense seemed to wear down at the end of the last two
games, raising questions about whether a group with five starters
in their 30s could be showing its age.

”I don’t think age has really mattered,” said Urlacher, who is
33. ”Judge me by how I play, not how old I am. I think the rest of
the guys would tell you the same thing. Our older guys have played
decent this year, I think.”

They haven’t played well enough to offset the struggling
offense, and it showed up most in the loss to Seattle after Hanie
threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown in the
third quarter. The Bears’ defense allowed 17 second-half points,
something it hadn’t done since a 24-13 loss at Detroit on Oct.
10.

”I don’t think there was necessarily a letdown (physically),”
linebacker Lance Briggs said. ”I think there’s more of a letdown
in our discipline, in things that we normally would be able to
handle.”