Bears defense giving up huge yards, Lions next

BY foxsports • October 7, 2011

Brian Urlacher usually gets irritated when certain statistics are brought to his attention. If the points allowed aren't much, then the yards given up don't matter to Urlacher and the rest of the Bears defense.

Now the Bears have both problems.

They rank 31st in the league, giving up an average of 425.8 yards heading into Monday night's game at Detroit -- the worst four-game stretch of Lovie Smith's eight seasons as Chicago coach. And they are giving up nearly 29 points per game over the last three, losing two of them.

''The yards have been there, a lot and points as well -- given up a lot of points and yards, which isn't a good thing,'' Urlacher said Friday. ''Luckily, we've managed to win two of those games, but I don't know what it is. We're not making big plays, we're giving up too many long runs, too many long passes. We're giving up big plays and not making any ourselves.''

Slipping from second last year to 23rd against the run (124.2 yards per game) accounts for some of the 1,703 yards the Bears have allowed. Each of the Bears' opponents has rushed for 100 yards or more.

''It's a complete 180,'' safety Chris Harris said.

There seems to be no easy answer to the struggles.

''I think we need to hustle more and get off blocks,'' nose tackle Anthony Adams said. ''And usually if somebody makes a mistake, there's somebody hustling to correct that mistake, and that hasn't been the case here lately. I think guys are playing too much uptight; just have to let it loose.''

It hasn't been any better against the pass, where they rank 29th. Only four teams have given up more completions of 20 yards or longer than the Bears (17), and Urlacher, not the secondary, has two of the team's three interceptions.

Not having Harris the last three games due to a pulled hamstring has hurt. Harris' status for Monday's game will be in question until right before the game, but he said Friday that he plans to play.

Players are trying to downplay anyone's absence.

''I can't blame Chris Harris for the plays that I messed up,'' linebacker Lance Briggs said. ''I'm very well capable, just as the rest of the 11 guys on the field are, to go out there and play good football. And so there are no excuses.''

The safety problem goes beyond Harris. The Bears were without their other starting safety, Major Wright, for one game and part of another due to a head injury. Safety Brandon Meriweather signed in Chicago prior to the regular season after being cut by New England, but he has been burned for a few deep passes.

''It's tough on the safeties, it's tough on the whole back seven if we're not getting quarterbacks down or we're not getting enough pressure,'' Briggs said. ''All the blame doesn't go to the safeties, it goes to us collectively.''

The Bears paid $91 million for defensive end Julius Peppers last year and he had eight sacks in helping lead the team to the NFC title game. This year, he has two sacks and defensive end Israel Idonije one.

''We've just got to finish,'' Idonije said. ''We watched the (game) film. We were getting there. We were getting some movement, just not finishing. So we've got to finish. That's the bottom line.''

Facing Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford after going against the mobile trio of Cam Newton, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers may help in this regard.

Stafford got knocked out of both his career starts against the Bears with injuries, including last year with a shoulder separation after Peppers sacked him.

''We don't want to just continue in the way our first four games have gone,'' Idonije said. ''It was a tough start. So we're kind of behind. An underdog, all that stuff. That's great. Let's just go play.''

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