The Chicago Bears used to be synonymous with good defense, but last season especially was quite different to that perception, sadly for the team. Have they improved? The off-season suggests that their defensive line is better, but with problems in the secondary, that may not be enough.
Local writers like Mark Potash and Michael C. Wright suggest that there’s plenty of promise in the defensive line, despite the new faces which call for them to get used to each other. Still, after last season ended with another non-playoff finale, their safety situation and defense as a while might not be that much better, or at least not good enough once again.
Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston and Willie Young have obviously never played together. Reports from practice and training camp suggest that the front four group is gelling well, but is a nastier, faster and overall better defensive line enough to erase all of the problems that kept the Bears out of the postseason for a third consecutive season?
Behind the defensive line is where problems begin. Age is an issue. Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman are 33, but are expected to put up big seasons. They’re good, but can they be great and make up for the mess at secondary? The list of names that includes Brock Vereen, Danny McRay, Adrian Wilson and M.D. Jennings doesn’t exactly strike fear in the heart of opposing quarterbacks.
Kyle Fuller, their first round rookie cornerback isn’t projected to start. Maybe feature more in the nickel package and get some playing time as one of the main two guys. While the Bears have improved immensely on the offensive side in recent years, they haven’t done so well in the draft when it comes to defensive talent, or at least keeping it. Their best picks are now playing elsewhere. Fuller might change that trend.
As long as Aaron Rodgers keeps playing like he does, it’s hard to see the Green Bay Packers as anything but favorites in the NFC North. The Bears are making their way in the right direction,but there’s competition from the Lions (probably not the Vikings) for a playoff spot as well. As much as the media loves to focus on the mistakes Jay Cutler makes, it’s going to be the defensive consistency that matters the most.