Problem with pass defense? Just not good enough

November 11th, 2008 - 5:34 pm

The Bears have been inexplicably bad defending the pass all season. They’re 30th in the league in that category, which makes you wonder what fans of the Seattle Seahawks and San Diego Chargers — the two teams ranked below the Bears — must be feeling every game.

I spoke a little bit about this in yesterday’s Monday Morning Quarterback, and after reading columns by Chicago sportswriters and comments posted by angry Bears fans, as well as listening to talk radio, it seems like it’s a good time to bring up the notion again, because it’s certainly the hot topic around Chicago.

Some people — such as the Tribune’s David Haugh — claim they have the remedy to fix the Bears’ pass defense. My question to these people is: if you really knew what you were talking about, don’t you think the Bears would be seeking your advice?

I know it’s common for sportswriters — particularly from the Chicago media market — to think they know more about football than the players and coaches that they cover. Ditto for fans who watch the games on TV. But there’s a reason why they’re being paid the big money to do their jobs and why writers are paid to put words on paper. If the Bears have yet to figure out why they can’t defend the pass after nine weeks, chances are the theories presented by fans and analysts aren’t going to work.

Then, there’s an ongoing debate as to who’s fault it is that the Bears are getting torched by mediocre quarterbacks like Kerry Collins, Gus Frerotte, Dan Orlovsky, and Matt Ryan. And let’s not forget earlier in the season, Bears outcast Brian Griese threw the ball 67 times for 402 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Some people are blaming Lovie Smith’s scheme, even though there’s documented proof that the Bears are not running as much “Cover 2″ as fans think they are. Other people are blaming the front four for not generating a pass rush. And, as the Tribune’s Steve Rosenbloom points out, there’s reason to believe not even the Bears can figure out who’s at fault. In one of the rare instances where I agree with Rosenbloom, there’s clear evidence that the players privately believe the system is at fault while the coaches feel the players are not getting the job done.

You’ll never get confirmation of dissension from this team, though. They publicly paint a rosy picture and honorably take the blame for not getting the job done.

So, because everybody else in Chicago is hypothesizing and trying to crack the code, can I lay down my theory?

Maybe the Bears as a whole just aren’t good enough. Perhaps this outdated defense — NFL coaches and players will concur — needs to be revised. And it’s possible that these defenders — namely Tommie Harris, Adewale Ogunleye, Brian Urlacher, and Mike Brown — are just not as good as they once were. The latter three are getting up there in age and maybe Harris’ injury problems are worse than the Bears are letting on.

Maybe there are no solutions to fix the pass defense’s problems. Because if one Chicago sportswriter truly had the remedy to correct the problem, then the entire coaching staff should probably be fired for lack of football intelligence.

I imagine the Bears will stay competitive the rest of the year and still make a push for the playoffs, but if they can’t somehow “magically flip the switch”, they’re not going to get very far in January.