If the Bears’ offense is a bad cold, then the Detroit Lions’ defense is a bottle of Robitussin. Take the medicine and the symptoms will be masked for a few hours on Sunday, but it won’t eliminate the virus.
The Bears need to grab that bottle and take a dosage of medicine with these active ingredients: 27 points per game (27th in the NFL), 6.1 yards per play (27th), 288 passing yards per game (31st) and an interception rate of 0.96 (29th).
Detroit’s offseason spending spree has not resulted in Matt Patricia having a better defense. While there are some new faces, this is largely the same defense Mitch Trubisky lit up for a career high 355 yards in the Bears’ 34-22 win at Soldier Field last November — and the Bears know that.
“It was a really good game for us and you saw there were some nice chunk plays in there,” Nagy said. “… We felt like the guys were really executing well and schematically we felt well. So without getting — you know, it's hard to say exactly why we like what we like but you go back and you watch that game on tape and you see man, it's pretty.”
There was an optimistic current running under Nagy’s remarks, as in: The Bears believe some of the things that worked last year can carry over to Sunday’s game, even if their offense has been one of the worst in the NFL in 2019.
The Lions are still allowing those big chunk plays, too, with opposing teams averaging 15 plays of 10 or more yards against them per game (the Bears’ offense is averaging 8.5 plays of 10 more yards per game). Their run defense is suboptimal, too, allowing an average of 4.7 yards per carry (26th).
(As an aside: It’s ironic that the Lions hired Patricia, the defensive mind, and don’t have a good defense…while the Bears hired Nagy, an offensive mind, and don’t have a good offense.)
The Lions have only once held an opponent under 20 points in eight games this year; the Bears have only scored more than 20 points twice (not counting the garbage-time-fueled 25-point effort vs. New Orleans). Something, then, will have to give on Sunday: Either a bad Bears offense beats out a bad Lions defense, or a bad Lions defense beats out a bad Bears offense.
If the Bears’ offense does feel better on Sunday, though, remember: One dose of Tussin doesn’t mean there isn’t still a long road to recovery, even if this team believe it’s close to getting over its offensive malaise.
“Right now there’s been more frustration than success, and we want to be able to understand the why part,” Nagy said. “Well, we’re hammering through that and we do really feel like we’re right there, we do. We believe it’s close.”