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Bears Film Study: Undermanned Defense Overshadowed By Loss

Sunday was another tough loss for the Chicago Bears.  

The defense played well considering they were without three of their four starting linebackers and two of their starting safeties. Hell, they didn’t allow a touchdown to an offense now led by Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy Garoppolo. Yet, they still came up short and took some of the blame for Sunday’s loss.    

For whatever reason, the Bears as a team continued to be hit by injuries. It seems like they have more injuries than any other team in the NFL. This offseason, if Ryan Pace still has a job, he needs to look into this issue harder than he has in the past. Something is going on here. 

Let’s break down what went right and what went wrong with the defense on Sunday. 

Kyle Fuller Continues to Impress 

I may have been wrong about Kyle Fuller. There I said it. Since his lackluster performance against the Green Bay Packers, Fuller has continued his solid 2017 campaign. In the first half alone, Fuller recorded five tackles two pass defenses, and an interception. He loves playing against the 49ers, his interception Sunday was the third of his career against the team from San Francisco.

Does Fuller deserve a contract extension? At this point, I would say yes, but does he even want to stay in Chicago? That’s a great question. Fuller and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio haven’t always had the best relationship. With that being said, Fangio could be gone at the end of the season. Ryan Pace is going to have a big decision to make on Fuller this offseason.         

Time On the Field 

Most of the time, I feel bad for the Bears defense. Why? Because they have to play almost the entire game. On Sunday, the 49ers dominated time of possession. They were on offense for 38 minutes, meaning the Bears defense was on the field for nearly 40 minutes of a 60-minute game. I don’t care how good a defense is, if they’re on the field for that long it’s hard for them to be successful.  

The offense of the Bears deserves some blame. Yes, there was a punt return that went for a touchdown that put the defense right back on the field, but this offense is so bad it’s hurting the defense. With all that being said, the Bears defense still didn’t allow a touchdown. Even with all the injuries, there are some positives things going on with this unit 

No Pass Rush 

The Bears pass rush was nonexistent on Sunday. Garoppolo had all day to throw and it hurt the Bears on many important third down plays. When it was all said and done, Garoppolo completed 26 of 37 passes for 293-yards and an interception. Not bad considering the 49ers best weapon on offense is wide receiver, Marquise Goodwin.      

Leonard Floyd makes the pass rush go. Unfortunately, he was not on the field Sunday and won’t be for the rest of the season. Pernell McPhee also injured himself on Sunday, which didn’t help the situation at the outside linebacker position. Giving a quarterback time to throw is a receipt for disaster. To the player’s credit, Fangio decided to rush just three players more than a few times. Bottom line, the pass rush needs to be better.     

Middle of the Field Wide Open     

The Bears defense left the middle of the field open many times on Sunday. The result was Trent Taylor catching six passes for 92-yards, including the 33-yarder that set up the Robbie Gould game-winner. Goodwin also caught eight passes for 99-yards, with many of his catches coming in the middle of the field. I’m not sure if this was Fangio’s gameplan, but it hurt the Bears defense on Sunday. 

Situational Football

Situational football is something the Bears struggle with on both offense and defense. Take the New England Patriots, for example, they never really have a great defense, but they play well situationally. Meaning they stop teams in the red zone and take the ball away when they need to. Since Fangio has been the defensive coordinator, the Bears have continued to struggle in situations like these. Yes, they were better on Sunday considering they didn’t give up a touchdown, but what happened on the last drive, specifically, that 33-yard gain by Taylor?       

I’m one of the few that believes Vic Fangio is an overrated defensive coordinator. I wouldn’t be upset if he was let go this offseason.       

Final Thoughts 

At the end of the day, the Bears held their opponent to 15 points. That is more than good enough to get a win in the NFL. The offense continues to be the biggest problem with this football team. Even with a ton of injuries, this Bears defense continues to be impressive. However, there are some areas in where they can still improve and Fangio is expendable. 


Nick is a recent graduate of Northern Illinois University and passionate about everything Chicago sports (except the Cubs). He has run his own website, been featured on Bleacher Report, and tried to sell his soul on eBay (which he hasn’t gotten back). He hopes to one day see his beloved Bears win the Super Bowl and is still trying to figure out why Jay Cutler gets so much hate.

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