The performance by the secondary was summed up best by what didn’t happen. Bears defensive backs combined for just four total interceptions and were too infrequently involved in impact plays.
“We just need to be able to get more takeaways like we had [at Tampa Bay],” said coordinator Vic Fangio. “You know, we had three in the game and we hadn’t been getting that many up to that point. We need a little bit more of an explosive, disruptive defense without necessarily changing schemes, just having it being a little more disruptive within the scheme with the players that we have.”
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The group had just two players – rookie safety Adrian Amos, cornerback Kyle Fuller – start all 16 games. Injuries took down veteran safety Antrel Rolle, who’d missed just one game in the previous nine years, and forced the Bears to use ineffective Chris Prosinski and Harold Jones-Quartey, with limited success outside of spot plays. And decidedly bad spots, too. Tracy Porter was a bright spot, taking over early in the season after Alan Ball faltered. The longer-range question is Porter’s durability as he approaches free agency. Porter, who has played 16 games just once in his eight NFL seasons, missed the first two games this season with a leg injury from training camp.
After a stellar game of impact plays against Tampa Bay, Jones-Quartey failed to keep his feet on a simple route by Detroit Lions tight end Tim Wright, giving up inside leverage and allowing Wright an uncontested catch for a nine-yard TD on the first Detroit possession.
Tracy Porter had the unenviable job of shadowing Calvin Johnson, who beat Porter for a 20-yard back-shoulder completion in the second quarter. Porter recovered from that to break up a pass to Johnson with no safety help, and Johnson working a double-move on the Bears cornerback.
[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]
But Porter lost touch with Johnson briefly in the third quarter and that was enough for the Detroit All-Pro to gain a step and enough separation for a diving 36-yard touchdown. Amos was late coming over for deep help on the play.
“Defense, we’ve had our ups and downs, but we’ve been gelling pretty good,” Porter assessed. “Not as often as we’d like to, otherwise our record would be a lot different. But I feel good about the group of guys we have in the room.”
How many of them and what others are back for 2016 will be the subject of intense evaluations over the next couple of weeks.
Moon's DB Grade: D+