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Why is Bears defense playing better?

Posted Oct 26, 2017

Senior writer Larry Mayer discusses what accounts for the improved play by the Bears defense, why receiver Kendall Wright hasn't seen more playing time and the last time the Bears won a game when scoring three points or less on offense.



Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.

I’ve been really impressed with how well the Bears defense has played the last two weeks against the Ravens and Panthers. What do you think accounts for the turnaround?

Steve D.
Bannockburn, Illinois

I actually think the defense has played pretty well all season. Lopsided losses in Tampa and Green Bay had more to do with the Bears committing four turnovers in each game than how the defense performed. I will agree, though, that the unit has played even better the past two weeks in wins over the Ravens and Panthers. In terms of what accounts for the improvement, I’d say it’s a combination of productive veterans such as Akiem Hicks and Danny Trevathan staying healthy, young players like Leonard Floyd, Eddie Goldman and Kyle Fuller maturing and performing like the Bears envisioned when they were selected high in the draft, and a much better secondary that was bolstered during the offseason with the addition of Prince Amukamara in free agency and Eddie Jackson in the draft. By the way, I asked John Fox what he feels accounts for the improvement on defense and here’s what the Bears coach said: “I think just chemistry. Those guys are holding each other accountable. I know they’re spending a lot more time in the film room together, and just experience. It hasn’t been a well-oiled machine as far as the same 11 starters each week probably for the first month. Then for the last couple weeks there’s been some continuity and chemistry.”

I don’t think there’s any question that Kendall Wright is the Bears’ best receiver. But it seems like he’s rarely on the field. So why hasn’t he been utilized more?

Phil E.
Wausau, Wisconsin

Well, the last two weeks the Bears have employed a heavy run-oriented offense in wins over the Ravens and Panthers, so there hasn’t been a whole lot of opportunities for any of the receivers. (Mitchell Trubisky threw only 23 passes in the two games.) But offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said something very interesting about Wright’s playing time recently. Loggains, who knows Wright well from their days together with the Tennessee Titans, believes that limiting Wright’s reps gives him the best chance to succeed. Said Loggains: “It’s by design. He’s a guy in my opinion who’s better when he doesn’t play 75 snaps; when he gets to play in that 25-35 range and he’s fresh and can bring the energy and juice.” Loggains reiterated Wednesday that he believes in Wright and will continue to lean on him. Said Loggains: “He gets open and does a good job and I obviously have a long history with him in Tennessee. When you’re in the bigger groupings and trying to play to your strengths that way it does limit some of the things he does. The last two weeks we’ve chosen to do some no-huddle stuff on third down to kind of help Mitchell. So it has limited some of Kendall’s touches and those things. But those will go up as the year goes. I’m not worried about it at this point. He’s not either. He’s a good receiver for us and we’ll keep using him.”

With the win against the Panthers I was wondering when was the last time the Bears won by scoring three points or less on offense?

Nick K.
Winfield, Illinois

The last time the Bears won a game when they scored no more than three points on offense was in the famous Dennis Green “the Bears are who we thought they were” Monday night game on Oct. 16, 2006 in Arizona. The Bears rallied from a 23-3 deficit to stun the Cardinals 24-23 behind two touchdowns on defense (on fumble returns of 3 yards by Mike Brown and 40 yards by Charles Tillman) and one on special teams (on Devin Hester’s 83-yard punt return). That was also the last time the Bears won a game without scoring an offensive touchdown before last Sunday against the Panthers.

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