Chicago Bears need this struggling unit to step up Week 4

Chicago Bears (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

If the Chicago Bears do not see improvement in their run defense, Sunday is going to be a long day

The Chicago Bears defense has been able to get a timely stop when needed. Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks have been game wreckers attacking quarterbacks, and by all intents and purposes, there is nothing to complain about when you are 3-0.

However, if the Chicago Bears want to be considered elite contenders in the NFL, there are things they need to improve on. Everyone will focus on the offense, but the defense can take a step forward as well. Most of their issues this season have come against the run.

In Week One, we saw the recently signed Adrian Peterson run up and down the field for 93 yards on 14 carries. Saquon Barkley was averring 7 yards per carry before he was sidelined with an injury.

They shut down Dion Lewis, but Lewis caught four passes for 36 yards. On Sunday, Todd Gurley and Brian Hill put up 23 3rushes for 138 yards and two touchdowns. Both had the best game of their 2020 to date.

The Chicago Bears rank 12th in yards allowed before contact, according to PFF. They also rank fourth in power rate, showing when they need a stop, they can get it.

However, they also rank 21st in stuff rank, which shows early-down runs stuffed at or behind the line. They are not getting a push and turning first, and ten runs into second and long. From there, they rank 19th in 2nd level runs, and 27th in open field runs.

This is where the issue lies. They are not elite upfront, and that can go back to losing Eddie Goldman. However, while Bilal Nichols is not getting the same production, he has held his own. The Bears have let short runs turn to long runs, and the passes to running backs point to the same culprit, which is the linebackers.

The Chicago Bears rely heavily on Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan. Smith has done well in coverage but has not made impact run plays at or behind the line. Trevathan has been a step slow in most areas, although he did play his best game in Week 3.

Still, we are talking about Adrian Peterson, Dion Lewis, and Brian Hill. Todd Gurley, too, but still. Now comes the Indianapolis Colts running back in Jonathan Taylor, who has not exploded yet, but is on the verge soon.

I do not have to go in-depth on the Colts offensive line, but first-round picks run from center to left tackle with Ryan Kelly, Quentin Nelson, and Anthony Costanzo. Braden Smith is a top 40 pick coming into his own, and Mark Glowinski is the glue guy who is playing his best ball in a great system with great teammates. Overall, it does not get better.

Next. Robert Quinn remains a rotational player. dark

The Colts run the ball 48% of the time, compared to the league average 42%. They are going to come out and challenge the Bears. Nichols is in for a huge matchup, but Trevathan and Smith are the most significant components. They need to get off of blocks when talented lineman gets into the second level.