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.”