Why the Bears are confident in their defense going forward


The glass-half-full viewpoint of the Bears' defense after that collapse in Green Bay can be seen through four points: 

— This group was within two or three big-chunk passing plays from winning this game, and has the talent and coaching in place to make sure those won’t happen again.

— Aaron Rodgers, at home at Lambeau Field, is among a small group of quarterbacks (and may be the only one) who could methodically erase a 20-point deficit and pull out a win.

— Players recognize they got complacent in the second half, and presented with as similar opportunity, won’t fall into the same lull. 

“We came out aggressive and everybody was hungry,” safety Eddie Jackson said. “I felt like we got kind of complacent in the second half. Guys got lazy. Kind of got tired. We have to keep swinging, man.”

— Khalil Mack and, to a greater extent, Roquan Smith weren’t 100 percent on Sunday, and when both players are fully up to speed this defense will be better. 

Those are valid arguments given what we know about a defense that was solid in 2017 and utterly dominant for the first 30 minutes of 2018. But there are reasons to question this group, whether it’s Kyle Fuller not taking advantage of an opportunity for an interception or that a veteran-laden team did, by its own admission, allow itself to get complacent. Explosive plays, too, shouldn't just be written off as isolated incidents (though more on that in a bit). 

The Bears, though, are confident whatever concerns raised outside Halas Hall in the aftermath of Sunday’s loss will quickly be answered starting Monday night against the Seattle Seahawks. 

“We’re pretty confident in ourselves,” safety Adrian Amos said. “If we execute and play our techniques, it was maybe two or three breakdowns in the game that can cost you.”

This is a defense that only allowed 18 plays of 30 or more yards last year, and only nine of those went for 39 or more yards (eight were passes, one was a run). The point: Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and the guys who were here in 2017 — which represents a significant majority of the depth chart — have plenty of reasons to believe the 39, 51 and 75-yard plays allowed against the Packers were an aberration fueled by one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. 

“Any time you give up those type of plays, that will give you the impression that everything has gone haywire,” Fangio said. “But everything didn’t go haywire. It’s just that they made two really big plays.” (Fangio likely was referring only to the two touchdowns, not the 51-yarder to Davante Adams, which didn’t wind up in the end zone.)

Of course, explosive plays are among the most back-breaking things a defense can allow, and in a close game one or two of them can swing the result. But to go back to last year: The Bears allowed Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper to gouge them for 40 and 88 yards in what wound up being a narrow six-point loss in Week 1, and after that allowed only six passing plays of 39 or more yards in the final 15 games. History is on this defense’s side (and last year's group didn’t have talents like Mack or Smith). 

“We know we pretty much beat ourselves,” outside linebacker Leonard Floyd said. “The confidence going in this Monday is going out and executing at a high level.”

Chances are, the Bears’ defense't outlook is somewhere in between the ferociously dominant group it was in the first half and the one that allowed a field goal and three touchdowns on four drives in the second half of the Green Bay game. But until these problems go beyond a single game, there are still plenty of reasons to believe the Bears’ defense is what we thought it would be a week ago. 

A good starting point to prove that belief: A Seahawks team that allowed quarteback Russell Wilson to be pressured on half of his passing plays (21 of 42) against the Denver Broncos last weekend. 

“We want to be a team that comes out aggressive, we want to come out from start to finish,” Jackson said. “And unfortunately we weren’t able to finish the last game. But this game we’re going to start right here. This is the starting point. This is the turning point. Started the day watching film and we know we have to come out here and finish better. That’s one thing we need to keep in the back of our minds. Finish. Finish. Finish.”

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