Bears-Rams: And the winner is…

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Bears-Rams: And the winner is…

ST. LOUIS – The Bears have had trouble scoring points at a winning level and the St. Louis Rams have allowed just two offensive touchdowns over their last four games.

The Rams have won all four of their games in which they have entered the fourth quarter with a lead; that happens a lot with elite defensive teams. But they also are 0-3 when trailing at halftime and 0-4 when behind after three quarters; that can happen with teams ranked 30th in scoring, which the Rams are.

[MORE: Bears could play well and lose next three games to undo season 'rally']

The question facing the Bears is how to maintain the pattern of keeping opponents very close and then winning with an impact play late in the fourth quarter. That has been the way in wins over Oakland, Kansas City and San Diego.

The Rams are 0-4 when failing to score 20 points. The point for the Bears will be to force St. Louis into down-and-distance situations in which running back Todd Gurley is not a go-to option as he would be in third-and-short.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

The status of wide receiver Alshon Jeffery is a tipping point, with Jeffery questionable due to a groin strain. Consequently:

With Jeffery:

Bears 19, Rams 17

Without Jeffery:

Rams 17, Bears 14

After historically low turnover total in 2016, what can Bears do to get more takeaways?

After historically low turnover total in 2016, what can Bears do to get more takeaways?

Quintin Demps set a career high in interceptions last year by not doing anything different. And that’s the message he’s sending a defense that generated only 11 takeaways in 2016, tied for the lowest single-season total in NFL history. 

Demps went from picking off four passes in both 2013 with the Kansas City Chiefs and 2014 with the New York Giants to notching just one interception with the Houston Texans in 2015. In 2016, though, Demps intercepted six passes, broke up nine more and totaled 38 tackles. 

“Turnovers are like, it’s not something that you go get, it’s something you let come to you by doing your job first and then helping out,” Demps said. “And then you’d be surprised how they come to you by doing your job and being aware of when you can help somebody out. A lot of times when you get help is when you get picks and turnovers.”

The danger for a defense coming off a historically bad takeaway is sort of a whiplash effect, where there’s an over-emphasis on creating turnovers and not enough attention paid to, as Demps said, “doing your job.” There’s a fine line between being opportunistic and undisciplined.

“I tell my safeties all the time, we gotta tackle first,” Demps said. “Tackle first, don’t miss any tackles and then the picks are going to come. I promise you that.”

The Bears felt positively after signs of being more opportunistic as a defense during shorts-and-helmets practices in May and June, though if that was because of any real improvements or because the defense is usually ahead of the offense is hard to tell at this stage of the year. 

The offseason program was valuable for the Bears’ secondary in growing trust within a group that had — no pun intended — plenty of turnover after the 2016 season. The hope is that the offseason additions of Demps, Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper and Eddie Jackson will solidify the secondary and lead to something better than last year’s historically-low turnover total. 

“We’re still trying to build something, but the actual, real building happens in training camp because I think then you start to see the group start to get formed and yo know who’s going to go with the one’s, who’s going to go with the two’s, stuff like that,” Amukamara said. “So I think that starts to get formed. But I think with a lot of guys now, I think what that creates is competition and guys trying their hardest to make the team.” 

Bears Talk Podcast: How will the offensive line fare in 2017?

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USA TODAY

Bears Talk Podcast: How will the offensive line fare in 2017?

In this edition of the BearsTalk Podcast, JJ Stankevitz and Chris Boden discuss what should be a strength - the offensive line, and one member who has a lot on the line this season.

Plus, the guys pick some numbers for the 2017 season and predict whether or not the team or individuals will fall short or exceed them.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: