MONSTER’S MASH: The Bears’ defense is happy to help as offense starts off slow

Football: Chicago Bears Roquan Smith (58), Khalil Mack (52) and Aaron Lynch (99) during anthem before game vs Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Denver, CO 9/15/2019 CREDIT: Jamie Schwaberow (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images) (Set Number: X162888 TK1 )

LAKE FOREST – There is one thing for sure after the first two games of the Bears’ season: The offense needs some work.

How big of an understatement that depends on the individual, but the high hopes for the unit that was in place before the season have not come to fruition early in the season. It took nearly seven quarters to finally get a touchdown, and their 9.5 points per game are near the bottom of the league.

That’s meant that the Bears’ elite defense has had to lead the way, and for the most part, they have. Not missing a beat under new coordinator Chuck Pagano, the unit has allowed 24 total points and 295 yards per game, giving the Bears a split of their first two games.

So is that a little irritating for the unit, who played well enough to win two games this season? Hardly.

“There will come games where one side of the ball will struggle. This happens throughout the entire league, and it’s the other side of the ball’s job to pick them up,” said defensive end Akiem Hicks. “Take a game last year against the Patriots, for instance; offensively and defensively, we’re firing, right? Special teams, we need a little bit of help, you know.

“So those types of things happen. It’s just our job as an entire football team to pick one another up.”

A PLACE TO START WITH THE OFFENSE

In searching for ways to improve the Bears’ offense, there are a number of places to look, but a good place to start might be on a particular down.

Third down has been particularly troublesome for the Bears so far this season, with the team converting 23 percent of them. Only the Jets and the Dolphins are worse in the NFL.

They were 2-for-12 in the opening game loss to the Packers where they scored just three points. They were slightly better against the Broncos but not by much, converting on three of their 11 3rd down tries in the victory.

“That’s definitely a huge focus for us because we haven’t been that good on third down with the conversion rates and what we’ve got going. So we definitely want to lock in on that,” said Trubisky. “I think the focus for us is just playing fast on third down, communicating, and in the exact right spot at the right time and I’m going to the right place with the football. It’s a huge focus on us, and we’ll study more of their third-down tape tonight and tomorrow.”

A FEW MORE TURNOVERS WOULD BE GREAT

There are few people complaining about the Bears’ defense in 2019 because they’ve probably kept the Bears from an 0-2 start.

But there is one thing that the players on that side of the ball and fans would like to see improve. It was something that was the calling card of the 2018 defense under Vic Fangio.

In two games, the Bears only have one turnover, which came in the fourth quarter when Kyle Fuller intercepted a pass from Joe Flacco in the fourth quarter last week in Denver. Last year the Bears had four turnovers in the first two games, including a pair of touchdowns in a loss to the Packers and a win over the Seahawks.

Khalil Mack had one of those touchdowns and forced two fumbles in those contests, but he’s not concerened about the lack of turnovers quite yet.

“Keep plugging away. All you can do is trying to keep getting them,” said Mack. “As you can see, once you get them, they start coming in bunches. That’s what we’re looking forward to doing this week.”

EDDIE GETS A NEW AWARD

Matt Nagy’s been one to find ways to award his players for achievements both big and small since taking over in 2018. This week, he came up with something new.

Defensive tackle Eddie Goldman was named the first winning of the “Sweep The Sheds” award that honors an “unsung hero’ of the game for a particular week. Goldman had three tackles in the win over the Broncos and registered one quarterback hit.

“We’ve been talking really from the offseason, through training camp just about the idea of ‘Sweeping the Sheds,’ not being too big to do the little things. You all heard that with Mitch during training camp; just keeping the locker room clean,” said Nagy of his inspiration for the award. “There’s a lot of times where people’s play and things that people do go unnoticed, and they don’t get recognized because everybody looks for the fantasy stat lines; they want to see who scored the most points to help them win their fantasy game.

“But there’s a lot of people who do the little things and we want to recognize them. Eddie was one of those this past game. He affected the line of scrimmage, he affected the quarterback. He made plays that weren’t necessarily in the paper or on the internet.”

STAT OF THE WEEK – 18

The number of years since the Bears last beat the Redskins on the road.

That came on December 23, 2001 when they won at Fed Ex Field 20-15, which included a go-ahead touchdown from linebacker Brian Urlacher on a fake field goal attempt.

 

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