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Root Causes of Bears Defensive Problems

Bears view defensive cave-in against Packers as something they can quickly reverse with the right approach.

Film review for the Bears defense on Monday hit a little harder than after the season-opening win over San Francisco.

From strategic mistakes to total breakdowns of fundamental tackling and positioning, Bears rookies and veterans alike suffered them during about a one-quarter stretch of the 27-10 loss at Green Bay. About everyone short of safety Eddie Jackson had some form of egregious mistake.

"Any time you take a loss, you've gotta look at yourself, judge yourself more crucially," defensive end Robert Quinn said. "Again, we've seen the great plays we made, but we've also seen the ones where we could've been more disciplined and whatever the defensive call may have been and knock plays out.

"At the end of the day, the game's over. Correct what we did wrong and we'll get ready for the game come Sunday."

Most basic of those were broken tackles or poor tackling angles, however, coach Matt Eberflus thinks they can rapidly change these types of errors in time for Sunday's game at Soldier Field against the Houston Texans.

"I think it could turn around pretty quick," Eberflus said. "It's about the fundamentals of it, but more importantly or as important, it's about determination.

"It's about the front seven really committing to it, the linebackers and D-line and the secondary, about them committing to not giving up the big play in the running game."

The run defense is last in the NFL after allowing 379 yards in two weeks, the worst performance by the Bears against the run for consecutive games since they allowed 434 yards against Green Bay and Washington in December of 2016.

When Eberflus put in the 4-3 defense in Indianapolis, they experienced similar struggles against the run although not to this degree. They allowed 100 yards or more in six of their first eight games then only twice in the second half of the season.

Texans coach Lovie Smith used a similar defense in Chicago in 2004 and had consecutive games when they allowed 429 yards rushing and 376 yards rushing. In one three-game stretch they gave up 575 yards rushing, and this was with Tommy Harris, Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs in the lineup. But eventually they got the system down.

"I think our angles were off," Eberflus said. "We were overrunning a little bit and then they were cutting back and getting some hidden yards.

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"That happened a few times and we have to improve on that. The fundamental things that we've been teaching since Day 1, we just have to keep getting better at those things."

Green Bay initiated screens effectively against the Bears, particularly a second-and-28 gain of 20 to Romeo Doubs. It gave Aaron Rodgers a chance to convert a third down and keep alive a second-quarter scoring drive.

"Yes, we've got to do a much better job there, and he's (linebacker Nicholas Morrow) got to hammer that, hammer it back to the defensive line," Eberflus said.

The trouble was, Morrow didn't do his part, and the defensive line pursuit behind the play didn't arrive. Quinn had jumped at the throw and it deprives backside players a chance to head upfield to catch up to the play when they do this.

"The defensive line can’t jump on that," Eberflus said. "They've got to keep their feet on the ground, raise their hands up to knock the ball down, but they've got to what we call out of the stack and plant and go. If we do a good job there, it's probably a 5- or 6-yard gain."

The Bears won't be facing a team this week as coldly efficient at executing screens or even jet sweep type plays like the one Aaron Jones scored on early in the second quarter.

Houston is 27th in rushing, 24th in passing and even worse on defense.

The again, the Bears are in a formative stage on defense and can't even afford to be worrying about how Houston has executed. Eberflus last week placed a huge emphasis on worrying about what they could do better rather than the opponent.

It's likely to be similar this week.

"The fundamental things that we've been teaching since Day 1, we just have to keep getting better at those things," Eberflus said.

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