New Jersey

Bears’ shoddy defense reaching a breaking point

Bears defensive coordinator Alan Williams seemed to see a chance to smash the hammer with a 14-point lead early in the fourth quarter against the Lions on Sunday.

In first- and tenth-place finishes at the Lions 45, Williams sent cornerback Kyler Gordon on a blitz, and it almost worked. But Lions quarterback Jared Goff escaped the sack and ran to the right touchline. Gordon turned around and did what he was coached to do – back to playing and trying to make a difference.

Gordon caught up with Goff just as Goff was being pushed out of bounds by linebacker Nick Morrow and swiped for the ball when Goff went wide at the Bears 45 yard line. But Goff went too far and was fined for unnecessary rudeness. Instead of a loss, it became a 25-yard gain for the Bears’ 30.

“I chased him to the ground and hit the ball with one hand from below and the referee will shout whatever they will shout. I’m just out there and hectic,” Gordon said. “It’s really up to the referee – it’s their decision. i will feel something [other] Way over it, but that’s none of my business. I’ll just do my job. Nothing we can do about it. That’s their job, I think.”

It was such a day for the Bears’ defense in a 31-30 loss at Soldier Field. After the Lions conceded 148 yards and 10 points in the first two drives of the game, the defense conceded just 22 yards in the first three drives of the second half in 13 games as the Bears built a 24-10 lead.

But it didn’t take much to get back into shape and the defense soon fell into an all-too-familiar rut – the more they tried to make a game, the worse they got. Three games after Gordon’s penalty, linebacker Jack Sanborn intercepted Goff at the Bears 8, but that was nullified by a penalty kick on cornerback Jaylon Johnson for illegal hands to the face.

The defense could not stand prosperity and withered under pressure. After Justin Fields’ 67-yard touchdown run gave the Bears a 30-24 lead by 9-11, punter Trenton Gill pinned the Lions with 5-23 left at the 9-yard line. But the Lions rushed 91 yards in eight games for the winning touchdown.

The frustration has reached a breaking point for the bears’ defense. Johnson, who had two consecutive illegal hands-to-the-face penalties in the fourth quarter, declined to speak after the game. Safety Eddie Jackson, who has become the team’s most vocal leader, couldn’t contain his irritation at the same issues that surfaced while Justin Fields and the offense picked up enough points to win.

“We can’t keep shooting ourselves in the foot,” Jackson said. “I’m tired of getting up here again and again [and] say the same thing every week. It just kept repeating itself. I felt like we had a great week of training – that’s the crazy thing about it. I feel like we flew around on defense. [The] Offense does what they did.

“We just have to do better. We have to finish. We had a 14-point lead. We gotta get out there and do our job. It works both ways. We have to trust our players. That’s all.”

Jackson said he didn’t see Johnson’s penalty, which nullified Sanborn interceptions, “but I heard it … was a bad call.”

But the bears have to overcome that themselves.

“It sucks, but we have no control over it,” Jackson said. “Like I said, I’m tired of sounding like a broken record every week, week after week. We have to do our job. We have to be better in defense – it shows week after week. We need to fix this. We need to fix it quickly.”

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