sistaff
Friday October 14th, 2011

After Jahvid Best broke free for an 88-yard touchdown run in Monday night's Detroit win over Chicago, ESPN's cameras caught what looked like Brian Urlacher laying into fellow linebacker Lance Briggs on the sideline.

Briggs briefly looked up at Urlacher, then kept his head down in his hands for the duration of the shot. Briggs also sat despondent on the bench during Detroit's extra point after the Best TD.

But Urlacher denied Wednesday that he was yelling at Briggs.

“Everyone asked me what happened after the game: ‘Was I yelling at Lance on the sideline?’ I said: ‘I wasn’t yelling at Lance on the sideline. He didn’t do anything wrong,’” Urlacher said Thursday at Halas Hall.

“My daughter was like, ‘Did you fight with Lance on the sideline?’ I said, ‘No, why?’ She said: ‘Well, you looked like you were really mad when you talked to him.’"

Urlacher added the moment was more mutual frustration over the Bears' struggles on defense. It's one thing for the Bears' offense to underachieve, but the franchise has built a proud history on its defense and, right now, that unit isn't showing up.

Best ran for a career-high 163 yards on just 12 carries against Chicago, and the once-vaunted Monsters of the Midway are allowing more than 135 yards rushing per game -- a number worse than 27 other teams.

Chicago's also been susceptible to big plays through the air, as evidenced by Calvin Johnson's 73-yard touchdown in that same Monday nighter.

In response, Bears coach Lovie Smith reportedly has decided to bench starting safeties Chris Harris and Brandon Meriweather, with Major Wright and Chris Conte set to fill their roles.

Wright was a starter for Weeks 1 and 2, then missed Week 3 with an injury, opening the door for Meriweather to start. Conte, meanwhile, has never made an NFL start and has just two tackles this season. He was the 93rd overall pick in April's draft.

At 2-3 and three games back of both Green Bay and Detroit in the NFC North -- and with losses against each -- the Bears face a virtual must-win Sunday night, when last-place Minnesota visits Chicago. Changes at safety or elsewhere, like along the offensive line, fall as a mix of grasping at straws and trying to salvage this season. The Bears face a huge uphill battle to get back in the playoff race, and there's no chance of making that climb without the defense rediscovering its championship form.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.