The Bears defense enters its bye week coming off a game in which they surrendered season-highs in points and yards.
Defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano has a message for his squad.
“We’re a good defense,” said Pagano. “We’ve got really good players, but you’ve got to be consistent. You’ve got to do it week-in and week-out. You’ve got to show up and play week-in and week-out. Take some time to get away from it. Rest. Heal up. We’ve all got to take a good look at ourselves and make sure we look at this tape good and hard.”
Speaking on the Bears Coaches Show on WBBM Newsradio 780 AM and 105.9 FM Monday night, Pagano didn’t attempt to spin his defense’s performance in London. He rejected the suggestion that the travel had anything to do with the 24-21 loss to the Oakland Raiders.
“We’re not going to make any excuses,” said Pagano. “I know coach (Matt Nagy) isn’t going to make any excuses. It’s the National Football League. I think we all understand what we signed up for. We had a golden opportunity. We let one get away.”
The defense sustained the loss of defensive end Akiem Hicks on the first drive of the game and struggled to put consistent pressure on Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. Above all else, Pagano cited the inability to get off the field a key driver in the defeat.
The Raiders were able to string together a series of sustained drives, including the fourth-quarter 97-yard march that ended with the Raiders taking the lead. Oakland’s proficiency on first down vexes Pagano.
“We knew we had to go in and do a better job on first down and get them in second-and-eight, second-and-nine, second-and-seven, at least,” said Pagano. “We knew that was their formula for winning. We didn’t do that. We didn’t get that job done. I’ve got to be better. I’ve got to do a better job of preparing these guys to face those challenges.”
There were places for praise. Sherrick McManis, a special teams mainstay who stepped in for nickel back Buster Skrine, saved a surefire touchdown by punching the ball loose from Raiders receiver Trevor Davis on the 1-yard line. If a few plays had shaken out differently, McManis’ forced fumble might have been considered a game saver.
“What a time to force that turnover,” said Pagano. “It flipped the field and gave us a chance to win that football game, but we just didn’t play good enough for 60 minutes.”
The bye week ahead will serve a two-fold purpose. First, Pagano and company will use the extra time to get a jump on defending their next opponent, the 4-1 New Orleans Saints. More importantly, the week will provide time for introspection and reinvention.
“It will be a great opportunity for us to look at where we’ve been good and what we’ve done well,” said Pagano, “then evaluate our tendencies and see if there’s anything sticking out.”
Even with a setback, Pagano believes that he has a special group this season, and the uncharacteristic performance on Sunday will soon be in the rearview mirror.
“They’re a gritty bunch,” said Pagano. “They’re a resilient bunch. They’ll come back. We’ll be back, and we’ll play great football again. They’re determined. They’ll right this ship.”