A team that cannot afford distractions was hit with a massive one last week when the Bears were informed that wide receiver Sam Hurd had been arrested on drug charges. The immediate impact was players being peppered with questions relative to absolutely nothing connected to the game against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
The Bears will be focused on Sunday; game days are not when distractions do their real damage. That was late in the week when the events were swirling around the players at a time when their days are typically spent solely in preparation for a football game.
Its stuff we have to deal with with you media but football-wise its not going to be an issue, linebacker Brian Urlacher insisted. Well go out and practice like we do every day and put it behind us when Sunday gets here and the games over and we get asked more questions about it.
Coach Lovie Smith has generally done a strong job of keeping his teams on mission. That has been no small task this year: lockout, training-camp problems with practice disruptions due to lightning and power loss, a game in London, a trip to Soldier Field for an aborted practice in front of fans not including injuries to a starting quarterback and running back, plus monster mistakes by Marion Barber and Roy Williams in addition to non-winning play from quarterback Caleb Hanie.
Of course a lot has happenedI guess you could say, Smith said. But for us, I look at what the team is doing. They come to work both Thursday and Friday. We've talked to them about what's going on. But that's on the outside. It's still about Seattle for us. All of our focus we're trying to keep on that.
No team in franchise history has lost four straight games and reached the postseason. With Atlanta refusing to lose, Detroit ahead of them in the wild-card race, and Seattle just a game back at this point, not a lot of analysis is required.
From here on out, every game is big for us, said center Roberto Garza. To stay in the mix, we have to win. Thats one of our main goals is obviously getting to the playoffs, so we have to start out with a victory to get going. We have to learn from the things that were doing well and obviously correct the things that were not.
Detroit has Oakland away, San Diego in Detroit and the Packers in Green Bay remaining. They could well lose all three. The Bears need to have put themselves in leapfrog position if they do.
Seattle quarterbacks have been sacked 41 times this season, 33 of them suffered by Tavaris Jackson. Only Arizona, Miami, Minnesota and St. Louis, all with losing records, have given up as many or more. The Bears have allowed 38 and nearly one-fifth (7) of those came in the Kansas City debacle.
Few teams have been consistently as good as the bears against the run. But cracks are beginning to show. The defense allowed 100 rushing yards in just one of the five wins that pushed them to 7-3 but has given up 73, 113 and 124 in the last three games, and the three losses were to teams (Oakland, Kansas City, Denver) that were willing to stick to the run even without dramatic success. Oakland ran 27 times, Kansas City 37 and Denver 34.
The Bears controlled Willis McGahee in Denver (17 carries, 34 yards), held off Dexter McCluster of Kansas City (9 carries, 61 yards) and shut down Michael Bush in Oakland (24 carries, 69 yards).
But no back in the NFL has been more effective over the last six games than Seattles Marshawn Lynch, who has 706 rushing yards and has scored seven touchdowns (six rushing) over those six games.