Smith: Bears don't play "soft" coverage

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Don't associate any element of Chicago’s defense with the word “soft”.

Bears coach Lovie Smith doesn’t like that, as evidenced by his response to a question Monday after practice at Halas Hall. Asked whether some of the Bears’ problems on third-and-long come as result of the team playing soft coverage, Smith gave somewhat of a surly response.

“Soft coverage,” Smith said, pausing. “We don’t play soft coverage. Uh, pass rush, normally a combination of that [is to blame] -- pass rush and the coverage part -- that was the case. Eventually, you get a guy in a position and he has to make play. Most of the problems we’ve had [have] been that for the most part; plays that we’ll make later on.”

But if the defense hasn’t made a habit of making stops on third-and-long in the preseason, why would it “later on?”

The question wasn’t asked Monday, but it’s a valid inquiry considering the defense has allowed teams to convert 45.7 percent of third downs in three exhibition outings.

Perhaps the reporter asking the question should’ve referred to the “soft” coverage as “off” coverage, which means the cornerbacks are lined up approximately five yards off a receiver as opposed to right in their faces. Either way, any characterization of any element of the defense as “soft” might be right on the money, given the unit’s production thus far.

“It’s simple execution, really, for everything,” Smith said. “There’s no quick fix or anything for it. In the preseason, you look at a lot of different things. We put the guys in situations we won’t normally do during the regular season. But we’ve had a lot of third-and-longs. If we get those third-and-longs during the course of the season, we’ll be in good shape.”

Then, it won’t matter whether the defense is called “soft”.