No doubt about it, quarterback Jay Cutler needs to play better, as Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman said. But at this point, Cutler isn’t this team’s most significant issue. It’s the defense, which has allowed an average of 443.6 yards over its past three outings.
What’s worse is the way they’ve done it, giving up significant chunks of yardage through miscommunications and breakdowns on the back end on what should be routine coverages.
“I think that with any team throughout the league, there’s going to be coverage breakdowns,” Trestman said. “That’s disappointing, but there are a lot [of calls and checks] that are properly called. Most of them are, and we’re in the right coverage in most cases if not all.”
So if that’s truly the case, what’s the real issue here?
Trestman gave defensive coordinator Mel Tucker a vote of confidence on Monday, saying he believes in the coach because “I watch him work every day. I watch him communicate with these players. I watch him work on the field with these players. To me, he’s doing everything he can under the circumstances to coach, to teach and to lead that side of the ball. He’s got a very good staff with him. They’re great teachers. They’re veteran coaches who have been in a lot of situations, as Mel has. He’s been through these types of things. I feel very confident that he’s doing the things that he can do to help us move forward.”
Fair enough. So at this point, it probably comes to execution and, most importantly, accountability for the players entrusted with the job of, uh, properly executing. Opponents have produced 14 touchdowns and kicked nine field goals in their 33 offensive drives against the Bears over the past three games.
Here’s what Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers said about Chicago’s coverage on his 73-yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson in the second quarter of Sunday’s 55-14 throttling of the Bears. In that game, Chicago’s defense also surrendered completions of 29, 40 and 56 yards.
"As they do from time to time, they tried to change the coverage up, but not everybody was on the same page," Rodgers said. "So you had Tim [Jennings] playing two-[high coverage] and the safety was playing single-high."
Obviously, the players are coached to properly communicate the calls and checks to everyone on the defense. But something is getting lost, and someone needs to be held accountable.
Bears general manager Phil Emery made the right call in the offseason to make over the front four by adding Jared Allen, Willie Young and Lamarr Houston. But from this vantage point, he miscalculated what the staff could get out of the linebacking corps, which is probably the defense’s most glaring weakness at this point, not to mention the secondary, where the club paid Tim Jennings $11.8 million guaranteed and brought back Charles Tillman, who suffered a season-ending injury in Week 2, while signing a litany of no-name safeties in the offseason with Ryan Mundy and Chris Conte emerging as the starters.
Trestman mentioned on Monday that the club will take a hard look at the depth chart, which means changes could be on the horizon.
“We're going to talk, we're certainly going to talk personnel as I said,” Trestman said. “The guys are getting in late, they're still looking at the tape. I haven't had a chance to even engage them because things have moved so quickly this morning. But we will, we certainly have to. We're going to look at everything as a starting point moving into Wednesday.”