The Bears take turnovers as a sign the demise of their No. 16-ranked defense has been greatly exaggerated. And they hope to provide more signs Sunday against winless Detroit at Soldier Field.
The Bears gave up 41 points and 439 yards to the Vikings, but they also created five turnovers.
Tampa Bay threw for 407 yards against the Bears, but the Bucs also threw three interceptions and lost a fumble.
Chicago’s defense, supposedly such a disappointment, is tied with unbeaten Tennessee for the NFL lead with 16 turnovers.
“We don’t want to give up the yards we’ve given up,” defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek said, “but turnovers are one of the biggest things in football. That can turn around seasons. Turnovers are what you strive for. It’s what this defense is built upon.”
The Bears (4-3) take turnovers as a sign the demise of their No. 16-ranked defense has been greatly exaggerated. And they hope to provide more signs Sunday against winless Detroit (0-7) at Soldier Field.
“That shows one of the things we have been taught has been working,” defensive tackle Tommie Harris said. “If we can get everything clicking, we can click on all cylinders, and this defense can be what we said it would be in training camp.”
For the offense, tied for second in the NFL in scoring at 28.0 points a game, it’s mostly a matter of keeping Kyle Orton on a roll.
“Every week you see him getting better and better and better,” Detroit coach Rod Marinelli said of Orton, who passed for a career-high 334 yards in Chicago’s 34-7 win in Detroit five weeks ago. “He has a nice arm and a nice way to avoid pressure. He has a good pocket presence to him. He’s stepping up and moving around. He’s tough to get to. He’s playing at a very high level.”
But the running game isn’t; the Bears have been held to fewer than 100 yards rushing four games in a row.
“When we start seeing looks that are favorable to the run, we’ll start running the football,” Orton said.
Like maybe Sunday.
“I expect defenses to switch it up,” running back Matt Forte said. “With the passing game going, they are going to try to stop the pass. Then we’ll hit them with the run.”
If they don’t, the Bears won’t be happy. Points and passing yards are great, but the Bears don’t feel like the Bears unless they run well.
“No, it’s not fine,” offensive coordinator Ron Turner said of the Bears’ pass-heavy results. “We’re doing some good things, but we can do a lot of things better.
“We’re making plays, but we’re not even close to where we can be. We’ve got to maintain that edge to go out and play well. As soon as that slips one bit, we’re going to be very, very average. We’ve got to keep playing with that edge we’ve got.”
The defense, except for producing turnovers, has seemed to lack that edge. Critics have let them know it, giving them little credit for those 16 turnovers. But the Bears say they are ready to get their edge back.
“We don’t need credit for anything. We’ve got to play better. We know we’re a better defense than that,” Dvoracek said of giving up 41 points to Minnesota in Chicago’s last game.
“We definitely want to prove that to ourselves, to the rest of the league, to everybody. That’s not who we are. We’re a much better unit than we’ve showed.”
“It’s enough talk that we’ve done,” Harris said. “Now it’s time to start showing it.”
Matt Trowbridge can be reached at (815) 987-1383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bears keys to the game
Dominate the return game. Whether the Lions kick short and deep, Devin Hester should make them pay with his first breakout game of 2007. “We’re prepared for deep kicks,” special teams coach Dave Toub said. “We’re prepared for squibs. We’re getting ready for both.”
Bury the Lions early. The last time, Chicago wasted a bunch of early chances and clung to a 3-0 lead midway through the second quarter before pouring it on in a 34-7 win. The Lions aren’t the same dismal team that opened the season by trailing by 21 points in the first half of their first three games; they’ve lost their last three by 2, 7 and 8 points. If the Bears want another easy win, they can’t squander early chances again.
Tighten up the pass defense. If the Lions want to run, let them run. The Bears rank No. 6 in the NFL in rushing defense and No. 29 in pass defense, in part because they like to stack the line against the run. Don’t do it this week, except on short-yardage situations. The temptation will be to let young QB Dan Orlovsky try to beat them, but Atlanta rookie Matt Ryan did just that. Just play the Lions honest.
Take Detroit seriously. “Everybody is good in the NFL,” defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek said. “They might not have any wins, but they are still a good, capable football team.” If the Bears mean that, they should win. But teams that come out flat lose to inferior teams every week in the NFL.