The much-publicized Bears' defense has been the driving force behind the team's 3-2 record to start the season, but the NFL is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league. And with the Raiders physically outplaying Khalil Mack and his defensive running mates in their last game before the bye, naturally, some of the negative attention has shifted to that side of the ball.
Defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano is embracing the criticism.
“We’re a good defense,” Pagano said on the Bears Coaches Show on WBBM Newsradio Monday night. “We’ve got really good players, but you’ve got to be consistent. You’ve got to do it week-in and week-out. You’ve got to show up and play week-in and week-out. Take some time to get away from it. Rest. Heal up. We’ve all got to take a good look at ourselves and make sure we look at this tape good and hard.”
One week after stuffing Dalvin Cook and the Vikings rushing attack in Week 4, the Bears allowed rookie Josh Jacobs to run for 123 yards and two touchdowns in a shocking 24-21 loss in London. Chicago's usually dominant defense was, well, dominated.
“We’re not going to make any excuses,” Pagano said. “I know coach (Matt Nagy) isn’t going to make any excuses. It’s the National Football League. I think we all understand what we signed up for. We had a golden opportunity. We let one get away.”
It won't get any easier for the Bears after their bye week. The Saints are up next in Week 7, followed by the Chargers, Eagles, Lions and Rams. Chicago has the most challenging schedule in the NFL over the final 11 games.
The Bears have a chance to get healthy and re-evaluate what's worked well during the week off, and Pagano is confident his group will respond in a big way.
“They’re a gritty bunch. They’re a resilient bunch. They’ll come back. We’ll be back, and we’ll play great football again. They’re determined. They’ll right this ship.”