Joniak's Journal: Bears Defense Has 'Family' Feeling

"We believe that we can hold it down," Danny Trevathan says.

Jeff Joniak
September 19, 2018 - 7:02 pm
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LAKE FOREST (WBBM Newsradio) -- The Bears (1-1) had a lighter practice Wednesday at Halas Hall as they continued preparations to face the Cardinals (0-2) on Sunday afternoon.

First impression

There's nothing stopping Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan right now. He was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week after he had eight tackles, two sacks and forced a fumbled against the Seahawks in a win Monday.

The de facto quarterback of Vic Fangio’s defense, Trevathan missed eight games in 2016 after signing with the Bears and another four last season, due in part to a suspension for a hard hit on Packers receiver Davante Adams. Only twice in seven years has Trevathan played a full season.  

Now, he's playing with his hair on fire and surrounded by a young, athletic front seven that's all signed long term. 

"Defense ... we are all a family," Trevathan said. "We believe that we can hold it down."

The Bears defense is doing that by only allowing a combined two field goals in six of the eight quarters they've played this season. The other two quarters in that equation have been Chicago's two fourth quarters, in which the defense has permitted a combined five touchdowns, which led to a loss at Green Bay and 24-17 win against Seattle on Monday.

"I just love being out there on the field," Trevathan said. "You never know how long you really are going to be out there, so you want to appreciate the time you are out there. I love being with my guys ... we’re here for the fight."

Second thought

Three of Bears running back Jordan Howard’s 29 rushing attempts have produced runs of 10 yards or more this season, and all three came at Green Bay in the opener. He's averaging a solid 4.0 yards per carry overall with more power runs than the outside zone runs that he had in the old offense. On middle runs this season, the Bears rank fourth with 5.36 yards per carry on 11 attempts, and Howard averaged 5.5 yards per carry running out of shotgun against the Packers. 

It was tougher to run against the Seahawks, with Howard rushing 14 times for 35 yards, 2.5 yards per carry.

"I thought his vision was good," coach Matt Nagy said. "He didn’t have a whole lot of opportunities. Those guys are just like quarterbacks, you want to try to get into a rhythm. I didn’t think that running the ball, there wasn’t a time where we just got into multiple runs where he was really feeling into the groove and into the rhythm."

Nagy may dial up more runs for Howard at Arizona on Sunday.

Third degree

Only two of the 129 offensive plays the Bears have run are in the "big play" category. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky has completed a 33-yard and a 31-yard strike to Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel, respectively. Chicago is tied for the fewest big play in the league with Arizona and Dallas. 

"There might be some plays that were just bread-and-butter in Kansas City that aren’t bread-and-butter here, and that's OK," Nagy said. "So, I’m learning that. Once I start myself figuring that out and then the quarterback starts figuring that out and the players around and the wide receivers and we start molding it all together like a piece of clay, then it will start coming to fruition."

The Chiefs have 13 plays of 20 yards or more, and the Bucs rank among the leaders as well. Tampa Bay plays at Chicago on Sept. 30.

"We need more explosive plays," Trubisky said. "We’re doing a great job of moving the ball well, but we definitely want more explosive plays. And that’s just me playing within the timing of this offense and getting (the ball) to the guys that are open."

From finishing blocks to running great routes to ball placement from Trubisky, it's all there for the Bears offense to eventually break out with pinpoint execution and bigger plays. 

Fourth-and-short

Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack is chill. He's not a big talker and certainly isn't big into discussing himself. However, he's quick to compliment his teammates. Mack gushed about Trevathan and nose tackle Eddie Goldman on Wednesday and has done the same regarding linebacker Roquan Smith, linebacker Leonard Floyd and several other members of the defense in the past couple weeks. An already tight unit is growing tighter with each successful down. 

Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak