By Charlie Roumeliotis
A year ago, the Bears defense ranked third in the NFL in points allowed with 17.3. But through seven games this season, Chicago's D has given up an average of 29.4 points per game, which ranks 29th in the league.
Cornerback Charles Tillman appeared on ESPN First Take Wednesday morning to promote P&G's Breast Cancer Awareness campaign, but also addressed the struggles their defense is facing.
"We're in rebuilding mode right now," Tillman said. "No, I think we'll be okay. I think our bye week came at the right time, so it kind of gave us an extra week to focus on ourselves, to iron out some kinks that we got going on in our defense."
The Bears have spent years patching up their offense while their defense has carried the team in the past. But when Chicago transitioned from Lovie Smith's defensive-minded style to Marc Trestman's offensive system, that flip-flopped.
However, Tillman believes the Bears defense will find its way again.
"I definitely think guys are frustrated being ranked 29th in the league," he said. "Since I've been here, that's probably the worst it's ever been, so there's a lot of soul searching. Guys are looking in the mirror and [are saying], 'What can I do to help this team be better?' I think you'll see a changed team Monday night."
Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather, who was suspended for an illegal hit on Brandon Marshall Oct. 20, stated that defensive players need to start tackling low and ending player's careers earlier this week.
His comments have heightened the conversation where defenders can hit an offensive player, and, as a cornerback, Tillman believes the new rules changes aren't sitting well with some of players.
"I'll say it is ticky-tack. I think guys are frustrated," he said. "The offensive players are too protected. ... I did a show earlier and we were talking about the rules about hitting guys with the helmet and, I agree, I don't think you should hit guys with the helmet. But I also feel the right offensive player hasn't gotten hurt for them to change that rule. So when a defensive player hits [a high-caliber offensive player] in his knee ... and he does tear his ACL or MCL that puts him out for the rest of the season, I definitely think that rule will be revisited."
The Bears will return to action against the 5-2 Packers Monday night in Green Bay. But they're also fighting for a spot in the division with the Lions, who are now 5-3 after pulling off an impressive comeback Sunday against the Cowboys.
So, are the Packers the bigger threat in the NFC North or is it the Lions?
"I think it's both," Tillman said. "I think if we overlook Detroit, they'll come back and bite us later. I think if we overlook [the Packers], Green Bay will sneak up the back road and get us. Both teams look good right now."