LAKE FOREST – There are a few plays that have developed the past two weeks that gave Vic Fangio nightmares.
There are the two long touchdowns given up to Albert Wilson in the Dolphins game – both of which kept the Bears from closing out the game and led to an eventual overtime loss. There was a 55-yard gain by Josh Gordon on Sunday against the Patriots that allowed the eventual game-winning touchdown.
All of these had similar characteristics – lack of pressure on the quarterback and missed tackles. Those have been the issues for the normally solid unit in a pair of losses that stalled the team’s momentum in mid-October.
“Just missing tackles,” said cornerback Prince Amukamara of the jump in big plays allowed the past two weeks. “For me, yesterday, the one with Josh Gordon was there. It probably could have been a 20-yard play, but missed a tackle and it turned into a 55 yarder. Then missed tackling was the name of the game against the Dolphins also.
“We’ve been doing a great job of trying to get those reps in practice.”
Expect more of those this week as the Bears prepare for the Jets this weekend at Soldier Field. Big plays have been the Achilles’ heel of this unit, and it’s showed up particularly in their three losses this season.
In losses to Green Bay in Week 1 and Miami in Week 6, the Bears allowed seven plays over 20 yards. A 75-yard pass to Randall Cobb was the Bears’ undoing against the Packers and the Wilson catch of the same distance tied the game. Against the Patriots on Sunday, that number was down to three, but there were three other completions that went 18 or 19 yards.
In the games the Bears have won that total is just eight, a decided difference that helped them to three-straight victories and a few week stay at the top of the NFC North.
“We’ve got to get back to it,” said safety Eddie Jackson of allowing the big plays. “It’s mental errors, little things, attention to detail, things like that, effort-wise. Those are things that we can control, so we’ve just got to get those negative things out and go back to playing football the way we were at the beginning of the year.”
Preventing those big plays would be a big start to getting their success going again.