Arkush: Time to be frustrated with Bears’ defense
LAKE FOREST – In case you haven’t heard by now, the Bears went to Seattle for what universally is known around the NFL as the “all-important third exhibition game” and they stunk up the field.
With a reasonable 24- to 48-hour cooling off period before anyone should have jumped to any conclusions about any potential far-reaching impact from the Bears’ embarrassing performance, the club returned to work Monday at Halas Hall and coach Marc Trestman and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker began explaining why it actually wasn’t all that bad.
Now, I’m starting to get upset.
Until hearing what the two coaches had to say, I had been out there leading the charge and trying to explain that exhibition games are, for the most part meaningless, and everyone should come back in off the ledge immediately.
They are meaningless when they are evaluated, coaches and players acknowledge what went wrong and have a clear path to fixing it.
When all we get is the glass is half full, when in fact it was 90 percent empty, it is officially time to worry.
Asked what the worst thing on defense was, Trestman responded “Let me just turn it around to a positive and you’ll see.”
I’m OK with that, it’s this Bears’ coach’s style and it seems to be working. Why dwell on the negative when there is positive to be found?
I am bothered by what Trestman added to the asset side of his balance sheet.
“We were getting after it on the rush. What we didn’t do was we didn’t contain. ... So I think the effort level, the energy level was very good in the game on both sides of the ball, which was great for a West Coast game.”
In the first half, with Seattle’s first-string offense against the Bears starting defense, Russell Wilson was 13 of 17 for 174 yards with two touchdowns, a sack, no interceptions and a 147.7 passer rating. A number of Bears defenders appeared to be moving in slow motion at times.
A 158.3 passer rating is perfect. It would have been almost impossible for the Bears’ pass rush to be any less effective.
I know, Jared Allen wasn’t there and Wilson is pretty good. All is not lost, yet.
But please don’t tell me how good you feel about the effort and the energy because it came on the West Coast after you’ve been carved up 31-0 in a half of football.
Then Tucker told us what we could take solace in and I got really annoyed.
“On a positive note, no double-digit runs,” Tucker said. “I think that’s the first time in the preseason we haven’t had a run over 10 yards. That’s the first time in quite some time.”
That’s the good news? In the first half, again, all 1’s on 1’s, Seattle rushed for 85 yards on 19 carries, a 4.5 average. Basically, instead of killing the Bears with sudden explosions, they bludgeoned them to death.
Allowing a 4.5 yards a carry average last season would have ranked the Bears 26th against the run rather than 32nd, and almost certainly still have left them at 8-8.
Finally, there is Tucker’s evaluation of the play of his star linebacker.
“Lance got a lot of reps,” Tucker said. “I thought he played fast in the game and I thought he competed well.”
I don’t know a soul who watched that game who wasn’t taken aback by how slow Briggs appeared, except apparently Tucker.
I don’t care that the Bears stunk in Seattle. Exhibition games really don’t matter.
But it freaks me out a bit that there are big holes on this Bears team, now the water’s gushing in and the guys with the buckets aren’t willing to break them out and use them.
• Chicago Football editor Hub Arkush can be reached at HArkush@ChicagoFootball.com or on Twitter @Hub_Arkush.