Bears Defense Picks Up The Pieces, Still Confident In What's To Come

October 18, 2018 - 3:38 pm

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) -- The arrival of star outside linebacker Khalil Mack to this Bears defense led to dreams of a strong unit achieving greatness.

Mack elevated the rest of his teammates and created instant credibility for the Bears amid a strong 3-1 start in which their defense gained recognition as one of the league's best. 

SPONSORED: Watch every Bears game this season with fuboTV -- click to start a free trial now!

Then came Sunday, when the Bears allowed 541 yards to the Brock Osweiler-led Dolphins, failed to generate a quarterback sack and missed tackles left and right. The debacle came as Mack was hampered by a right ankle injury, but it still led to the Bears' renewed defensive identity immediately being put to question.

"It wasn’t who we’ve been here in the past, even throughout this stay," defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Thursday. "It was disappointing and something that’s got to be corrected."

Back at work this week, the Bears spoke with confidence that the poor performance was just a blip on the radar. Veteran leaders like Akiem Hicks and Danny Trevathan emphasized that others with step up if Mack is limited by the injury or forced out of action against the Patriots on Sunday. While indications are that Mack can play, it's worth wondering how effective he will be. 

With or without Mack, the Bears have quite the test ahead. New England comes to Chicago averaging 29.3 points per game and with 41-year-old quarterback Tom Brady still playing at a Hall of Fame level.

Meanwhile, the Bears were humbled by their time in South Florida.

"It’ll be a good test for us, bouncing back from this game and putting together a good four quarters," Trevathan said.

Statistically, the Bears remain one of the NFL's top defenses, ranking fourth in points allowed per game (19.2) and 10th in yards surrendered (343.8). But for all the credit the Bears gave to Mack -- and rightfully so -- their look without him at 100 percent was alarming. 

Osweiler was hardly pressured by the Bears, often distributing the ball quickly and getting his weapons space. The Dolphins gained 280 of their 380 passing yards after the catch, according to Pro Football Focus, which also noted the Bears missed 19 tackles this past Sunday after missing just 15 through four games.

"It happens every once in a while," cornerback Kyle Fuller said. "Not maybe to that extent, to have that much of an impact on a game, but it’s one of those things we just learn from it and move forward."

Coach Matt Nagy noted the honesty that came early this week as the Bears defenders doled out responsibility for their individual errors that created such a collective breakdown. They took the practice field again Wednesday stating how it will be different their next time out. 

So, where does the Bears defense go from here? In their view, greatness is still looming.

"We know that it’s a long season," Trevathan said. "We can keep getting better. We’re not complacent here."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.​​