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Chalk Talk

Chalk Talk: Why aren’t Bears forcing turnovers?

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.

Why isn’t the Bears defense producing as many takeaways this season as last year?
Ryan D.
Key Largo, Florida

That’s a difficult question to answer because there are a lot of factors in the decline in takeaways this season. The Bears have forced 11 turnovers through eight games, putting them on pace for 22 this year after they led the NFL with 36 in 2018. The first thing that comes to mind is that they’re not generating as much consistent pressure on the quarterback. A strong pass rush like the one they had last season results in takeaways both via strip/sacks and interceptions. Another reason may be that the Bears have been trailing a lot more this season, which enables opponents to take fewer risks and rely more on their running game. Here’s what coach Matt Nagy said this week about the decline in takeaways: “I do think that some of that is because some of the opportunities of where you’re at in a game where there are more runs maybe or safer throws. There aren’t as many two-minute throws for an offense that our defense sees playing with a lead. That hasn’t happened as much where you’re up double digits and teams are in one-dimensional mode.”

What was your take on Mitchell Trubisky saying that he wanted to turn the TVs off at Halas Hall this week because of all the criticism the Bears are receiving?
Phil T.
Roselle, Illinois

I’m sure that Mitchell Trubisky is tired of hearing and seeing all the criticism of himself and the Bears and that he believes what he said about too many people on television ripping the team that “don’t really know who we are or what we’re capable of.” But as far as his comment about turning off the TVs at Halas Hall, there was certainly a tongue-in-cheek element to it. It’s like if I gained a few pounds and said, “Geez, I wish they’d take down all the mirrors at Halas Hall.” I wouldn’t literally go to someone in the building and ask them to remove the mirrors. I think a lot of people in the media—especially those outside Chicago who don’t know Trubisky’s personality—took his comment way too literally and blew it incredibly out of proportion.

The Bears defense really hasn’t been the same since Akiem Hicks was injured against the Raiders. How much do you think they miss him?
Roger S.
Peotone, Illinois

Anytime you lose an All-Pro player who excels against the run and pass and is also a highly-respected team leader, it’s going to be a significant blow. But that doesn’t mean the Bears defense can’t excel without Akiem Hicks. The unit played its best game of the season Sept. 29 against the Vikings when Hicks was sidelined with a knee injury, so it’s obviously possible. Here’s what coach Matt Nagy said this week about the absence of Hicks: “He's got that energy during the game where he’s just kind of barking at the line of scrimmage. His presence is really felt. He’s one of the leaders of our defense. And I think that when you lose somebody that has the size that he has, the personality that he has, that is a big loss. But at the same point in time, we feel good about our other guys. I think our defense is playing really well right now. There’s times they can be better, but all that said, losing a Pro Bowl-caliber player like him, you're definitely going to lose a little bit.”

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