The state of the Bears’ run defense has produced stratospheric rushing totals for opponents. It is also having a subtle but precipitous negative effect on the Bears’ offense, which has seen an end to help from defensive scores and fewer short fields off takeaways that have dried up indirectly because of the woeful run defense.
The Bears are 4-0 in games when the defense has scored a touchdown. They are 2-6 in ones where opponents have not given the Bears a defensive score.
All five of the Bears’ 2013 takeaway touchdowns have come off pass plays: four interceptions and a return of a Ben Roethlisberger fumble when he was stripped in the pocket.
But as the defense against the run has worsened, Bears opponents have needed to take fewer risks in the form of dropbacks and throws. Only one of the Bears’ first six opponents ran the ball on more than 50 percent of their snaps. Of the last six, four have run the ball on at least 52 percent of their snaps.
One of the other two was Minnesota last week, which fell behind by two scores in the second half after running on 58 percent of first-half plays. The other was Detroit, which runs only 39 percent of the time normally but ran on 43 percent of their plays against the Bears on Nov. 10.
The NFL average is 41 percent run plays.
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Adding to the problem, the Bears have not recovered an opponent’s fumble in eight games, since week four at Detroit. They intercepted nine passes in the first six games, six over the last six.
The Bears have had an even or plus turnover ratio in six of the last seven games, but it is a deceiving positive, more the result of ball security on offense than defensive dislodgings.
In the last eight games, they have had one or zero turnovers in seven of them. Josh McCown has thrown just one interception and the offense has lost just three fumbles over the last six games.
“Takeaways are a premium for this defense,” linebacker James Anderson said. “When we get a chance, we’ve got to get them.”