LAKE FOREST – Two years ago, they were history, in all the ways that you don’t want to be.
It’s not even like the Bears were a terrible defense – 15 in total yards and 24th in points allowed – but their inability to force turnovers put them in some NFL infamy.
With just eight interception and three fumbles recoveries, the Bears tied the league record for lack of takeaways with just 11 on the season. It tied them with the 1982 Baltimore Colts in that category.
Just two years later, things have turned around in a big way for Vic Fangio’s defense, who are making a habit out of taking the ball away.
Through nine games the Bears are second in the league in getting turnovers, netting 24 during their opening stretch that’s put them in first place in the NFC North.
They’ve picked off 16 passes – double the amount they got in 16 games in both the last two seasons – while also collecting eight fumbles along the way. Their +13 turnover ratio is the best in the NFL and is a big reason why they’ve won 6 of 9 games.
“Last year, turnovers was the emphasis, so it goes to show that we kept working at it and we reaped the benefits of it, and it’s been helping us a lot, and we love it,” said linebacker Danny Trevethan of the team’s knack for turnovers in 2018. “That’s our whole attitude.”
Their turnovers are also paying dividens on the scoreboard. So far the Bears have gotten 89 points off turnovers – with the defense collecting four touchdowns themselves during the season.
Here’s how many points they’ve scored off turnovers in each game this season.
Week 1 – at Packers – 7
Week 2 – vs Seahawks – 7
Week 3 – at Cardinals – 13
Week 4 – vs Buccaneers – 10
Week 6 – at Dolphins – 7
Week 7 – vs Patriots – 21
Week 8 – vs Jets – 0
Week 9 – at Bills – 17
Week 10 – vs Lions – 7
“I still feel like we’re scratching the surface. There’s a lot more, a lot better we can do,” said cornerback Prince Amukamara of the turnovers. “Coach Vic and the whole defensive staff have been really emphasizing tackling and when you tackle good, great stuff happens. We’re still emphasizing taking the ball away. We still just have to continue to do so and we’re gonna to see a lot of great things when we do that.”
If you’re wondering what the team record is for takeaways, they’ve got some work to do to get it. The overall record is 58 in 1947 in a 12-game schedule, with the 16-game record coming in the Super Bowl winning 1985 season, when the famed “46” defense got 54 in 16 games.
Yet if the Bears keep it up, they’ll continue to add to the only record that counts: The won-loss.