LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker calls it more a matter of trust than physical failure.
Traditionally strong against the run, the Chicago Bears defense has leaked of late, and players are trying to avoid blaming it on numerous injuries.
“It’s honestly not like we’re getting driven off the ball,” defensive tackle Corey Wootton said. “It’s just that we’re not fitting in our (assignment) gaps. When you’re not disciplined, the thing that should be a 1-yard gain or possibly a tackle for loss turns into a 20-yard gain. That’s where we need to clean that up because it’s starting to become a problem.”
The Bears rank 31st out of 32 teams stopping the run at 129.4 yards a game. If that holds by season’s end, it will be the worst mark since linebacker Dick Butkus was limping around trying to play on a bad knee. The Bears were 25th out of 26 teams in 1973.
The Detroit Lions ran for 145 yards last week against the Bears, who allowed 123, 209 and 199 yards rushing the three previous games.
Tucker said players had to trust each other and stay in their gaps of responsibility in the run defense.
“Typically, if you are in position where you are supposed to be, the plays will come to you,” Tucker said. “And so we ask guys not to try to do too much, just do what we’re asking you to do, and be where you’re supposed to be and then when you have an opportunity to make a play, make it.”
It’s not easy for players to establish trust when they’re unfamiliar with each other or the defensive scheme. With linebacker Lance Briggs ruled out already for Sunday’s game because of a broken shoulder, cornerback Charles Tillman done for the rest of the regular season, defensive tackle Henry Melton out with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and middle linebacker D.J. Williams done with a torn pectoral muscle, the Bears keep lining up new players.