Firstly, we all knew coming into this season that the defense was a huge question mark.
It took 5 games of mediocre play, a couple more injuries and now we can see it clearly-- they are as bad as many feared they might be.
2. Strength/Size vs. Speed
The system is broken. Nearly any NFL team with a half way decent QB and offensive coordinator can see the holes that exist in the Tampa 2. We get exploited week in and week out with the underneath routes and we simply have no answer for it. Once the offense is able to establish a running game, which happened VERY quickly today, that issue is accentuated further.
Our defense players, from DBs to LBs to "rushmen" are, quite frankly, small and weak. Yes, they are athletic and fast but the unit completely lacks the mass and power needed to compete in today's league. Nearly ever #1 receiver today is tall and strong-- we have nobody in the secondary who can man-handle them. Our linebackers are not strong--they're fast but they don't have the force and power needed in so many aspects of the game like covering big tight ends or getting in front of power backs or shaking off blocks from tight ends or athletic tackles. And, finally, our dline-- well, they are pipsqueaks. Tall, lanky, speedy, skinny guys who simply don't have the power to win in the trenches. We were totally exploited there today by a massive O line.
The average quality of the unit's personnel isn't half bad but that is because the entire unit (backups and starters) are comprised of just that-- average personnel. Games are won by play-makers and aside from Briggs and maybe P-Nut, we really don't have any. You can get by with starters like Afalava or Roach or Anthony Adams or Bowman or Alex Brown-- they are completely serviceable players. In fact, they are great complimentary guys to a unit that has play-makers. But we don't have them anymore.
Which leads me to my next point: injuries. We used to have them but Urlacher, M. Brown, Harris, Vasher (yes, he was once a real play-maker) are all gone-- mostly due to injuries. Even Pisa showed some signs in pre-season of being a difference maker and he's gone too.
So, ask yourself, is it really surprising that our D performed this way today when we are running a system which any team in the league (that has even a slight capability to execute) can expose? When our team which is built without strength and power and goes up against an offense that is ALL about strength and power? When we completely lack playmakers? When nearly all of our best playmakers are gone or forgotten?
I think not.
So, the question is: How do we rebuild?
Rest assured, Lovie, Angel and Rod (three guys who all bring the exact same thing to the table--familiarity with the Tampa 2 defense) are not going to change the system so as long as they're here, and they WILL be here next year, we're not going to change the defensive scheme.
Instead, the Bears need to look at personnel and I believe it all starts up the middle: Under Tackle, MIKE and a great safety. We have none of the above anymore. All three lost to injuries (Harris, Url and M. Brown.)
We'll have Url back next year but let's face it, he has one maybe two seasons left in him. Unfortunately, we have no option but to rely on him next year as there are just too many other holes on this team to think about replacing him for the 2010 season.
AT DT, Harris needs to be replaced. Is Harrison the guy? Is Gilbert the guy? We need to find out the rest of this season if one of them can take Tommie's role-- so let's just bench Tommie now and if we make a run in Dec, we can see if his knee has heeled up enough to give him a shot at some playing time in the post season. Either way, we have to let him go in the off-season
Same thing at Safety. We have no choice but to give Afalava and Manning the rest of this season to see if they develop further but right now, they are just serviceable players. My only suggestion is to keep Manning at Free Safety full time and let Graham play NB. Afalava looks OK-- kind of like the way Orton looked OK: he's not going to get beat too bad, won't miss too many tackles but he's not going to blow you away either. If we don't see one of these two developing into real play-makers in the next 10 games, and it doesn't look good at this point, then we'll absolutely need to go into free agency with an eye on a real veteran safety. Look at what B Dawk has done for Devner.
Best case scenario is that one each of the 3 Technique candidates and one of the safety candidates step up and become difference makers. If that were to happen, we could spend free agency looking at other needs: OL, OL, OL, RB, CB, WR, MLB. If not, we'll have to address those positions somehow after we work on the o line.