Black and Blue all over: The Bears' defense

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
It looks like the continuing deficiency of Chicago's defense will get quarterback Rex Grossman off the hook in the Windy City postmortem this week. Grossman didn't deserve sole blame for the Bears' 21-14 loss to Tennessee, but usually he is a victim of the pile-on factor.

No, those who covered Sunday's game directed their aim pretty squarely at the defense, which stopped the Titans' running game only to get torched by a Kerry Collins-led passing attack.

We'll let Mike Mulligan of the Chicago Sun-Times set the table:

The better hypothetical question is what Grossman might have done against the Bears' defense. That unit seems to make every quarterback look like a world-beater. Take Tennessee's Kerry Collins, who enjoyed his best game of the season by miles. Collins passed for 289 yards (he hadn't throw for 200 in seven previous starts), had two touchdowns (he only had three on the year and never more than one in a single game) and produced a 108.7 passer rating -- not bad for a guy who has been at 72.9 for the season and just 73.3 for his career. Collins produced his highest passer rating in a game since he was starting for Oakland against Tennessee back in 2004.

David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune suggests that Bears coach Lovie Smith needs to drop his glass half-full approach and admit his defense has serious flaws:

There was nothing flattering about holding a team with two quality running backs to 20 yards on the ground, not when it played right into the Titans' adjusted game plan. Sorry, but Tennessee abandoning its running game to throw 41 passes was not a compliment to the Bears' defense. It was an insult.

We'll touch more on the Bears defense later Monday in our much-anticipated "Three answers" feature. Continuing around the NFC North after Week 10:

  • Bears quarterback Kyle Orton said he was given the opportunity to decide for himself Sunday morning if he could play with a sprained ankle. He opted against it but expressed hope that he will improve in time for the Bears' next game at Green Bay. Bob LeGere of the Daily Herald has details.

  • Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News starts the Lions' countdown to 0-16: "The Lions are running out of options, and running out of time."

  • The Lions didn't just lose to Jacksonville, writes Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com. They got beaten up. Kowalski: "An opponent walked onto their turf and pushed them around and kicked them when they were down. When the Jaguars ran the ball, they ran around the Lions and they also ran them over. When the Jaguars passed, their receivers ran around Detroit's defenders like they were fence posts."

  • Lions coach Rod Marinelli will decide on his starting quarterback early this week but isn't likely to announce it publicly, according to Nicholas J. Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press.

  • Packers kicker Mason Crosby on his missed 52-yard field goal that could have defeated Minnesota: "I was surprised it went right and just stayed over there. It started coming back at the end. Just one of those -- I'd hit them right down the middle all game and then that one kind of got away from me." That and more from the Green Bay Press-Gazette's game day notebook.

  • The Packers are hoping that starting middle linebacker Nick Barnett did not suffer a serious right knee injury. But if he did, Desmond Bishop would be his likely replacement, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

  • Didn't hear this quote Sunday from Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers: "It was one of the most disappointing games of my career." Michael Hunt of the Journal Sentinel leads his column with the quote.

  • Vikings quarterback Gus Frerotte, who threw three interceptions Sunday, took the blame for keeping Green Bay in the game. "The score doesn't really indicate how well we played," Frerotte said. "Taking myself out of it, everybody else did their jobs." Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune takes a look at Frerotte's day.

  • Minnesota linebacker Napoleon Harris on the Vikings' pass rush: "Any time you get the quarterback looking at the rushers and not the receivers, you know you're doing a pretty good job." Tom Powers of the St. Paul Pioneer Press makes fun of Rodgers' happy feet.