With the Bears new look offense getting most of the publicity, and not all of it good (the run game can get going any time now), I thought I'd look inside the numbers on the defensive side of the ball. Lovie Smith made a big splash this off-season announcing he would take over defensive play calling, but has it been effective so far? In a small sample size of just 3 games, it's still to early to tell, but we can start to see some tendencies starting to form.
Something I was pleasantly surprised about is the frequent and effective use of the blitz. And not just the obvious shoot the A gaps blitzes of years past, but he's brought DB's off the edge and LB's on some delay blitzes. He's doubled up on some blitz angles and he's utilized the plug the gap run blitzes on occasion too. I thought Lovie was going to fall back into his basic Tampa 2 philosophy, but he's mixed it up quite well so far. Not to say the Tampa 2 look is gone, Nick Roach had a nice pass breakup in the Seattle game, albeit with his back turned, but he was in the right place taking away deep middle in the zone.
Looking at the defensive numbers so far, the Bears rank;
12th in scoring defense at 18 points per game
9th in total yards allowed at 293.3
13th in rushing yards allowed at 94.7
12th in passing yards allowed at 198.7
2nd in sacks with 9 (3 teams are tied at #1 with 10, and Chicago is tied at #2)
24th in turnover ratio at -2
All except the sack numbers, the Bears aren't overly impressive in any category, but I looked deeper into the stats and found positive reasoning the Bears could be on their way to becoming the top 5 unit many of us predicted they would be. First the obvious, the turnover margin will fliparound soon, as that is a staple of any Lovie Smith defense. However I would like to see them wrap up before they go for the strip.
Looking at average yards per play the Bears rank 6th in the league at 4.7, in yards per pass play they rank 7th at 6.2, and in yards per rush attempt they rank 13th at 3.9. I'd like to see the yards per rush brought down, but overall I think your have to give positive marks to the defense as a whole. The defense held Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers to their worst games on the season thus far, and in the 3 games opposing QB's have a rating of 81.0.
The coaches can only do so much, it's up to the players to make plays. Tommie Harris had an active game against the Seahawks with 3 tackles, and he was getting a nice push up the middle. With his injury history I expected him to have a slow start on the year, but he looks to be rounding into shape. Zack Bowman led the team in tackles with 8 in Seattle, his physical presence is a nice change from Nate Vasher. Danieal Manning and Al Afalava look to be the right mix at safety, and I liked the way the linebacking unit stepped up last game.
If I was to give a letter grade to the defense so far (it looks like I am), I'm going with a solid B. Then again I guess we could blow up the Defense? Your thoughts?