Can the Bears defeat the Detroit Lions without scoring a defensive touchdown? One indicator says no, and more important, that the Bears won’t get any defensive scores against the Lions.
Consider: The last time the Bears had a defensive touchdown against a team with a winning record was against playoff-bound Detroit in 2011.
When the defense stopped scoring last year, the Bears stopped winning. The defense was still among the NFL’s best in yardage and points allowed but the offense’s failures cost the team the playoffs and numerous people their jobs.
The Bears were 6-0 when scoring a defensive touchdown. Add to that the 2-0 mark (Minnesota, Pittsburgh) with defensive scores this season and the pattern is more than clear.
The Bears lead the NFL with 11 takeaways and are second with a +6 turnover ratio.
Two nagging questions, however, are whether the Bears are able to create takeaways against elite tor even good teams –- none of those eight wins were against teams with winning records –- and whether the offense can win without that significant scoring help, particularly against a good team. Coach Marc Trestman questioned that latter capability himself last week.
Coach Jim Schwartz remembers the 2011 game, which came one week before Jay Cutler broke his thumb against the San Diego Chargers. And Schwartz knows that the reasons for the defensive scores are exactly where they were then.
“You don’t create turnovers with scheme,” Schwartz said.
“You create them with good players. When you have guys like Julius Peppers, Briggs, Peanut Tillman, you've got guys that are ball hawks and some guys that are good at stripping the ball out. Some guys are good at intercepting the ball.
“You really have to take care of the ball against them because that’s their lifeblood defensively. They are the best in the NFL at creating turnovers. One of the main things in this game is we’ve got to protect the football. We can’t turn it over.”