The Chicago Bears are playing around with their lineup in hopes of stopping the trend of giving up leads in the fourth quarter and losing. The Bears are currently operating without Devin Hester, who practiced this week but still appears to be uncertain for game time. Hester said he would like to play but coaches may want him at 100% before putting him back on the field and risking an injury that could cost him the season. Hester admitted to reporters that he is not 100%, which could be the deciding factor.
More importantly, the Bears are trying to figure out what chemistry is leading to losing games late. Last week the Bears opted to start cornerback Corey Graham instead of veteran Nathan Vasher for what they called personnel matchups. I’m a bit perplexed since Vasher is probably the most talented corner the Bears have had in a while and has shown a great ability to get interceptions. Perhaps it served as a wake up call to Vasher that he needs to step up his game if this defense is going to continue to do well. The passing defense has looked horrible and opposing quarterbacks are doing whatever they want, leading to easy touchdowns late in the game.
The scapegoat appears to be linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer, who is the player responsible for giving up key touchdowns late in both losses. Hunter is an extremely smart, capable linebacker, but it is obvious teams have found a way to exploit his weaknesses. Coaches have a tough decision if they will continue with Hillenmeyer or give capable backups Nick Roach and Jamar Williams more playing time.
The Bears seemed perfectly healthy a week ago but now that the losses are piling up, so are the injuries. There is no reason the Bears shouldn’t be 3-0 right now except for the complete breakdown of the defense late in the game. The starting point for me is lack of pressure on the quarterback. The Bears have always prided themselves on good defense and a strong rotation of players to apply constant pressure on the quarterback. There is something wrong with the Bears front four, they should be more productive and producing more sacks.
There are rumors that Tommie Harris is having knee problems again and he is attempting to play through the pain yet again. Whether its true or not, that doesn’t excuse the rest of the men on the line for getting taken out of the game. Brian Griese may be accurate but he sure is not nimble and the Bears should have been able to get at him with the blitz. Instead he tore the Bears defense up for the winning drive.
The penalties late in the game that cost the Bears were probably pure frustration for the sudden inability to hold the lead late. That isn’t the identity the Bears defense has carved for itself and they have not changed any of the players from previous years. Fans are starting to turn to coaches for answers and more specifically, defensive coach Bob Babich. His defenses and blitzes are working good throughout the game, but opposing teams are making easy reads and finding ways to beat them late. More needs to be done to change up the defensive attack late in games to keep offenses confused and maintain the win. If not, the murmurs are already starting in Chicago for a change in coaching staff if this trend continues.