Bears

Bears defense starts slow again: 'That s--t will make you mad'

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Bears defense starts slow again: 'That s--t will make you mad'

If you take out the first drive of each game, the Bears defense would have to be among the best in the NFL.

The Bears let the Broncos carve right through them on their first drive of the game for an easy touchdown. That makes it four of the last five games in which the Bears defense has allowed a touchdown on the opening drive.

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It took just over 90 seconds and four plays for the Broncos to march 74 yards into the endzone in Sunday's 17-15 win over the Bears. What made matters worse was it was also Denver quarterback Brock Osweiler's first career start.

"That s--t will make you mad, man," Bears linebacker Pernell McPhee said after the game.

Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas - clearly Denver's top threat in the passing game, especially with fellow receiver Emmanuel Sanders sidelined with an injury - found himself absolutely wide open in the middle of the field and broke a tackle from Bears safety Chris Prosinski en route to a 48-yard TD.

After the game, Bears head coach John Fox said he didn't want to play "the blame game," but admitted they left Thomas uncovered and the defense just didn't execute.

"We lost our minds for a second," Bears linebacker Shea McClellin said. "Sometimes that happens. Sometimes we get confused. We have to clean that up.

"We have to start faster than that. We haven't done a very good job the last three or four weeks. We just have to correct it. It's that simple."

Fox, McPhee and the rest of the Bears defense admitted they needed to make adjustments on the sideline and felt as if they were able to following the initial touchdown.

After that drive, the Bears allowed just 10 points and also stopped the Broncos on a fourth-and-1 inside their own two-yard line.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

The Bears have allowed 28 points in the last five opening drives. But in 52 other drives over the past five games, the defense has allowed just 74 points (an average of 14.8 points per game).

That means roughly a quarter of the points the Bears have allowed the last five games have come on the opening drives. Considering the Bears lost three games by a grand total of eight points in that span, those opening drive TDs are a killer.

"You don't want to say 'settled in' because when that ball's kicked off, it's game on. Period," Prosinski said. "We've just got to get off to a faster start, really lock in and stay focused."

Will Mitch Trubisky be this season's Jared Goff?

Will Mitch Trubisky be this season's Jared Goff?

The Chicago Bears have been compared to the Los Angeles Rams as a team capable of a significant one-year turnaround after the many moves by GM Ryan Pace to improve the offense and build around second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky.

According to NFL.com's Adam Schein, the comparisons go one step further. He thinks Trubisky is the best candidate to be 2018's version of Jared Goff:

"I'm infatuated with the Bears' offseason," Schein wrote. "The Bears smartly followed the Rams' blueprint from last offseason: hand the keys to an offensive guru/quarterback whisperer (Matt Nagy) and dedicate the offseason to surrounding your young signal-caller with talent (Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Trey Burton in free agency, James Daniels and Anthony Miller in the draft). Trubisky will follow in Goff's footsteps and take a major jump in his sophomore campaign."

MULLIN: Teammates see greatness in Trubisky

The comparison of Trubisky to Goff makes a ton of sense. Both were drafted with franchise-quarterback expectations but had average rookie seasons. Both played their first year with an old-school, defensive-minded head coach who was later replaced by a young up-and-coming offensive specialist. And both Goff and Trubisky were given high-powered weapons to begin their sophomore seasons with (the Rams signed Robert Woods and traded for Sammy Watkins before last season). 

Trubisky has to turn these comparisons into production, however. The Rams' remarkable 2017 campaign was just that because rarely does a team have such a dramatic turnaround in only one offseason. The odds aren't in the Bears' favor.

Still, there's a surge of confidence and support in and around Trubisky from the coaching staff and his teammates. He's doing everything he can to prepare for a Goff-like season. We'll find out soon enough if his preparation pays off.

Bears counting on a healthy Leonard Floyd in 2018

Bears counting on a healthy Leonard Floyd in 2018

There's a lot of pressure on the Chicago Bears' pass rush this season.

The NFC North has suddenly become one of the league's most talented quarterback divisions with Kirk Cousins (Vikings) joining Aaron Rodgers (Packers) and Matthew Stafford (Lions). Chicago is the only team in the North without a proven veteran under center.

Leonard Floyd is the most gifted pass-rusher on the roster and the onus is on him to become the superstar sack artist Ryan Pace envisioned when he traded up in the first round in 2016 to select him. Floyd, combined with free-agent addition Aaron Lynch and veteran Sam Acho, have to deliver.

“Leonard Floyd has to stay healthy and have a good year,” Pace told The Athletic's Dan Pompei. “Aaron Lynch has to come on. Vic [Fangio] had background with Aaron Lynch, so that gave us a comfort level in signing him. There is upside there. He’s still a young player. He fits the defense and knows Vic. Sam Acho has been a consistent player for us."

Floyd has just 11 1/2 sacks through two seasons, both of which have been marred by injury. He's played in just 22 of a possible 32 games as a pro.

Pace didn't address the team's pass rush until the sixth round of April's draft when he nabbed Utah's Kylie Fitts. It seemed odd at the time that he waited so long to address one of the team's most glaring needs and there haven't been any veteran signings to sure up the group since the draft concluded. The Bears are one injury away from a serious problem at outside linebacker and are relying on a bunch of guys who haven't proven capable of playing a full season in their careers.

"We felt fortunate to get Kylie Fitts in the sixth round, and he has to stay healthy," Pace said. "You are never going to come out of the offseason and say we addressed everything, we’re perfect.”

The Bears invested most of their offseason resources into surrounding Trubisky with playmakers who can help him compete with his NFC North counterparts. The offense will be better.

But if Floyd doesn't have a breakthrough season, more pressure will be on Trubisky to score points -- and a lot of them -- to keep games close in the division. And that's not the kind of pressure the Bears are hoping Floyd creates in 2018.