Bears

Bears defense looking for 'mindset,' 'doing a little bit more' as 2016 ebbs

Bears defense looking for 'mindset,' 'doing a little bit more' as 2016 ebbs

Linebacker and leading tackler Jerrell Freeman was answering the by now-weekly question on possible explanations for why the Bears have been unable to generate the hallmark of great defenses: takeaways. In the process he arguably hit upon a crack that has developed in the Bears defense after what had looked to be establishing itself among the NFL’s better units.

“It’s a mindset,” Freeman said. “Being conscious of it, trying to get to the ball, making tackles. Just doing a little bit more.”

“Mindset.” “Doing a little bit more.” Keys to what the defense has lost in the closing days of 2016?

For a defense that looked to be steadily if incrementally improving amid the collective carnage of the 2016 season, the past couple weeks have been jolts. And a something of a mystery.

Picking themselves up after the blowout at Green Bay, and even including the interception-fueled crushing in Tampa Bay, the Bears allowed an average of fewer than 300 yards and barely 20 points per game over the six-game streak beginning with the Oct. 31 win over Minnesota. They’d moved into the top 10 in yardage allowed and sacks.

Then came 400-yard games against Green Bay and Washington with 30 and 41 points allowed. Intensity appeared to be flagging, evidenced by poor tackling and increasing big plays given up, both casual indicators of faltering want-to.

But the results, paralleled by a catastrophic continuing inability to jar footballs loose from the hands of opposing offenses, defy simple solutions.

[MORE BEARS: Evaluating John Fox's Bears based on Redskins game]

“I know defensive-wise we’ve been healthy,” said Freeman. “Through training camp on in, we’re a pretty good force. We get guys hurt and guys coming in you’ve got to bring them up to speed.

“That’s no excuse. Like I said before, when guys come in we expect them to come in and be a professional and do what they need to do to come and play. And we’ve had that through most of the year and then past two games, it’s just like, man, we’re not a team that gives up big plays, but last couple of weeks we’ve given up some big plays. And then offensive-wise, we’ve got a lot of weapons over there. Again, injuries and unfortunately, but that’s the NFL. You gotta deal with changes. That’s what the NFL is all about. Just got to go out there and prepare.”

Matt Forte makes musical debut with "In My Nikes"

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USA TODAY

Matt Forte makes musical debut with "In My Nikes"

The latest (former) athlete turned artist is none other than our very own Matt Forte!

In a video released on Thursday, Forte raps over the beat from "Dem Frachize Boyz" song "White Tee". The Forte version is aptly named "In My Nikes". And according to Forte, it is his first music video: 

The video is filled with shots of Forte looking cool in his Nike gear, spliced up with occasional highlights of him from his Bears' career.

But make no mistake, the song is not simply about Forte being more stylish than everyone else. He also takes time in the song to talk about a few of the ways that he uses Nike to help others. Forte raps "High school in need or a youth league team, just holla at ya boy and you might get 'em free/underpriveledged kid may be homeless in the street, I'ma make sure you got some shoes on your feet."

This song and video were produced without the knowledge or endorsement of Nike. 

It is not yet known if Forte has more music in the works, but he certainly seemed comfortable in "In My Nikes".

Khalil Mack was mic'd up on Monday night and you'll probably the footage

Khalil Mack was mic'd up on Monday night and you'll probably the footage

Khalil Mack was mic'd up during Monday night's win over Seattle, and lord there are so many generic motivational quotes we need to sift through here. 

If you want to watch the whole four-minute video, you can find it here.  You can also find a slightly shorter version here.  There's also this tweet: 

Mack has lots of energy, which is great. That he channels it into short bursts of generic sportstalk is hilarious. Here's a running list of the *exclusive* audio that NFL films is proud to present to us: 

00:24-00:33: Ahhh. Let's get it baby. Ahhh. Let's get it. 

01:24: It's coming. It's coming. It's coming. 

01:39: Let's go baby. Time to take the field. Let's go baby. 

01:43: I love it. Let's go baby. I love it. 

02:00: AAAAHHHHHHH.

02:27: [inaudible] let's go.

02:42: Hey man, you've got to love it, brother. 

03:53: AAAHHHHHHH. let's go. 

There are some genuinely funny moments sprinkled throughout the video, though. Mack singing "I want your love, I need your love" after crushing Jeremy Lane is terrific. The way he goes back and forth with Germain Ifedi before calling his shot with a forced fumble is both great television and a mind-boggling feat of altheticism. He's clearly already a leader on defense, but also it seems like maybe doesn't know his teammates names yet? He refers to almost everyone by their numbers which is probably just a football thing but YOU NEVER KNOW. 

Khalil Mack: generational linebacker and very average mic'd up participant.