It's High Risk or High Reward for Bears defense

Gene Chamberlain

The interceptions haven't come for the Bears secondary this season for any number of reasons, including just sheer dumb luck.

Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano sees the opportunity this week for more against the Detroit Lions, even if the chance is also there for big plays by Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford against his defense.

"There's a lot of timing and rhythm throws in there," Pagano said. "And he (Stafford) does a great job of holding guys, and he can spin it and throw it into as tight of windows as I've seen. Especially once you get down into the red zone.

"Having said that, there's going to be opportunities. There's opportunities. He's thrown five (interceptions) this year. Guys have taken advantage of some throws. You know he's not afraid to take some chances and he counts on his guys to make some plays. We have just as much right to that ball as they do. Our guys will be in position."

The Bears have five interceptions and last year at this time they had 10, and they kept coming at a good pace.

Pagano pointed out the Bears have defended 30 possessions in the red zone, while last year at this point it was just over half that total (16).

"So that comes back to situational football, that comes back to third down," Pagano said. "We aren't giving up explosives, we are pretty good against the big play and we are going to have to be because this (Lions) team we are playing obviously thrives and lives by the big play."

Stafford has had good seasons before, but under new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell he's utilizing receivers Kenny Golladay, Marvin Hall and Danny Amendola more for big gains downfield. His yards per attempt are a very healthy 8.6 and he's first in the league at just over 312 yards passing a game.

"If we play the type of game we're apble of playing, we can stop him, contain him," safety Eddie Jackson said.

Jackson had one of the season's key interceptions off Stafford last year, the Thanksgiving Day pick-6 to put the Bears in front to stay at Detroit.

The risks Stafford takes makes him vulnerable, but he's throwing with confidence into tight spots.

"He's an older guy, a vet, so he sees things a little different," Jackson said. "Right now they have a new offensive coordinator, things like that, so it's working in his favor."

The experience might be a factor, but Bears coach Matt Nagy has seen this type of play from Stafford even when he was younger.

"He's always had that mindset," Nagy said. "I put him, for sure, as one of the top quote-unquote gunslingers in this league.

"I think that he can throw from every arm angle possible. He's always aggressive and it doesn't matter if he thinks there's a tight window, he's gonna try to fit it."

The Bears will be hoping he fits it where they can get it.