Unlike seasons past, the Bears are having no issue forcing turnovers
LAKE FOREST – His era as defensive coordinator saw marked improvement across the board from season to season. What was the worst defense in the National Football League has steadily creeped towards being the best.
But there is something different about the 2018 squad that Vic Fangio and the Bears are trotting out to the field this season. Khalil Mack is a big reason why as his outside rush and play-making ability has presented a new dynamic to the defense.
One of the biggest things the unit has helped the Bears improve on is the one thing that was always an issue – turnovers. Forcing them at times has been a tricky proposition for the Bears, but in 2018 that’s not been an issue.
In three games the Bears have had five interceptions and recovered three fumbles – a total of eight turnovers which ranks them second in the NFL behind only Cleveland (11). Their seven forced fumbles so far are the best in the league as this Fangio’s defense certainly has a knack for turnovers.
“We’ve got a good feel, and we’re all just having fun and the thing that people don’t see if we genuinely like playing together,” said Trevathan of the defense so far in 2018. “It’s fun out there.”
Especially in the second half when the Bears doubled their total of turnovers for the year in just 30 minutes. Eddie Jackson, Sherrick McManis, and Bryce Callahan all had interceptions while Mack cam up with a strip sack in the fourth quarter. All of these are a change for the Bears, who’ve always struggled with getting those turnovers in the Fangio era.
Each of the last three seasons the Bears had exactly eight interceptions as they ranked in the bottom half of the turnover numbers in the NFL. They were 28th in 2015 in the first year under Fangio and dropped to last in the league in 2016 with just 11 takeaways in 16 games. Things improved last year as the number of fumble recoveries shot up from three to 11.
Mack is a big reason for that improvement, already forcing three fumbles, recovering one, and picking off a pass for a touchdown. Yet he’s not trying to over hype himself and the defense just yet with 13 games still remaining in the season.
“You can say it’s special, but we’re still trying to get better every week, there are still things we need to work on defensively, you see the growth,” said Mack. “I’m still mad about certain plays that I gave up last week. That’s the kinda mindset we have in this locker room and that’s the thing that’s most special to me.”
Fans might say their play has been just that the past three weeks, and their ability to get the football away from their opponents is one of the main reasons why.