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Chicago Bears Defense Setting the Standard; Offense Trying to Catch Up

November 6th, 2012 at 1:45 PM
By PJ Foti

For those of you who actually watched the video — see what we did there, now you have to watch the video — the key word by the announcer was "another."

It was "another" forced fumble by Charles Tillman. He asked whether or not it would be "another" touchdown for the defense.

That particular play didn't result in a Chicago touchdown, but to date, there have been seven such plays of defense that have resulted in six points for the Chicago Bears. The question is: how are they doing it?

The answer: they are forcing turnovers at an alarming rate (28 through Week 9) and looking to score.

“We like where we are right now,” Coach Lovie Smith said. “I know this defense is doing some things that no other defense has done that I’ve been a part of. You know scoring touchdowns, the amount of takeaways we’ve been able to get. That is special what we have going at the halfway point.”

The most impressive member of the defense has been Tillman.

He forced four fumbles against Tennessee on Sunday, three of which were recovered by Chicago Bears, and totals seven forced fumbles on the year. He also has returned two interceptions for scores. He has now forced 36 fumbles since 2003, which is second most in the league to Indianapolis Colts defensive end Robert Mathis. On Sunday, he passed both Dwight Freeney and teammate Julius Peppers on that list.

“Most of mine come from the blind side of the quarterback,” Peppers said (via the Sun-Times’ Sean K. Jensen). “He does it while the guy is looking at him and trying to run him over. He does it in a different way, so it makes it a little more impressive.”

Tillman has led this Super Bowl-caliber defense through the midpoint of the year. Now, can the offense match that effort so Chicago wins games by halftime the rest of the way? Simply put, probably not. However, to give them credit, when opportunities arose early, the Bears made quick work of them as both offensive touchdowns in the first quarter came off Titans turnovers in their own red zone.

This is an offense, though, that will live and die with Jay Cutler. As he and the offensive line go, the offense will go. They key is to get Brandon Marshall open — as we saw how dangerous he really is with three touchdowns Sunday — and to give Matt Forte as many touches as possible.

As long as the offense don't force turnovers of its own, Chicago's defense can get them into the playoffs. When those start, however, Cutler and Co. will need to figure it out. Hopefully first-year offensive coordinator Mike Tice will better know how to game plan by then.

Tags: Brandon Marshall, Charles Tillman, Chicago, Chicago Bears, Dwight Freeney, Football, Jay Cutler, Julius Peppers, Lovie Smith, Matt Forte, Mike Tice, NFL, Robert Mathis

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