AL HAMNIK: Bears defense can't afford to take time off this season

2013-09-09T18:00:00Z 2013-09-17T22:38:08Z AL HAMNIK: Bears defense can't afford to take time off this seasonAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
September 09, 2013 6:00 pm  • 

CHICAGO | Some people are never satisfied and always want more.

It's like standing in a bread line and asking for toast, with marmalade on the side.

I'm that guy. I want more from the Bears defense.

Sunday's fortunate 24-21 win over the Bengals has been dissected and over analyzed repeatedly, but the bottom line is this: The 'D' needs to take a bigger bite.

Cincinnati had 340 total yards of offense, averaged 6.2 yards per offensive play and 8.1 per pass play.

Quarterback Andy Dalton was sacked only once.

Are you with me here? Please read on.

The Bengals also converted 7 of 11 third-down opportunities. It hurts to write that.

Bears' linebacker Lance Briggs (7), end Julius Peppers (0) and tackle Henry Melton (1) -- all big money guys -- combined for just eight tackles.

Cornerback Charles Tillman had seven tackles, but was pushed to the brink of exhaustion by all-Pro receiver A.J. Green, who faked Peanut out of his shell on more than one occasion.

Tillman missed several plays while hooked up to an IV and vomiting on the sideline. Trying to cover a comet does that to you.

I refuse to panic, however.

The Bears did force three turnovers, scoring 14 points off two of them. Tillman had a pair of interceptions and Tim Jennings caused two fumbles, recovering one to set up a score.

"Turnovers are most important. Peanut is the leader. He's always going to continue to lead us," Briggs said afterward. "I'm sure he's dog tired now, but he's a fighter.

"For the most part, it's the same Bears' defense in 2013. But there's things we've got to correct to be successful and continue to get more wins."

Briggs didn't have to be specific. Just glance down the stat sheet. Take third downs.

"It wasn't like it was third and short. It was third and 10, third and 11," Briggs said. "Those are defensive-heavy, winning-percentage downs. So that's stuff we have to correct.

"I also missed a lot of tackles. I can't miss tackles like that."

It's early, of course, with time to improve in all areas, like pressuring the quarterback. The Bears did turn up the heat in the final 30 minutes.

Of the Bengals' 340 total yards, 245 came in the first half. Of Dalton's 282 passing yards, 189 came before intermission.

"We didn't change a whole lot," Jennings said. "We just had to tighten up what we do and kinda slow them down a little bit. They're a very explosive team."

The Bengals, while not exactly sore losers, were more disappointed in themselves than impressed by the Bears and they had good reason to stare in the mirror.

"We controlled the whole game until the fourth quarter," Green said. "This team is going to be real good when we put the pieces together and stop killing ourselves."

The Bears could be real good, too, maybe even Super Bowl worthy, if the defense takes its monster pills.

That's what I want more of, minus the marmalade.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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