Chicago Bears mid-season report card

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Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Defense — C

The Chicago Bears’ defense has been awful the last couple of years under former defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. Now they have a proven coach in Vic Fangio, and he changed things around.

Fangio started by changing the base defense. The Bears have always been a traditional 4-3 base, but Fangio changed it to a 3-4 hybrid.

It took awhile for things to get going. They gave up 125 points in the first four games. In the last four games, they have given up 96 points.

Part of the reason for the change is the change in personnel. The Bears traded Jared Allen and Jonathan Bostic, and the players received a message loud and clear that the coaches and front office are serious about having players who will do their jobs or will be shipped out.

The tale of the defense has been a good-news bad-news story. The good news? The unit ranks ninth in the NFL in yards given up (341.9). The bad news? They rank 27th in points per game (27.6). The good news? The Bears rank fifth against the pass (220.2 yards per game). The bad news? They rank 24th against the run (121.6 yards per game).

Even the stat against the pass can be deceiving. Although they seem to be doing well against the pass, when it comes down to crunch time, the secondary has been burned.

In the game against the Minnesota Vikings, the Bears marched down the field and took a lead with about five minutes remaining . In that time, the defense gave up ten points, and the Bears lost.

The same thing happened against the Lions.

The Lions are the worst team in the NFL, yet the Bears defense could not stop Matthew Stafford from torching them.

There are some good players who the Bears can build on, however.

Pernell McPhee will turn out to be the steal of free agency. He will be the next Bears’ defensive superstar. He has five sacks, 27 tackles and an interception. After spending time as a rotational player in Baltimore, McPhee is the man in Chicago and is breaking out.

Eddie Goldman was put in a difficult position. He had to be the starter early in the season due to Ratliff’s suspension. He had Ratliff as a safety net, receiving tips on how to play the line.

Then Ratliff lost his mind, and now is gone. Goldman is the full-time starter, without his safety net, and he is doing well. Expected to be a run stuffer, he has gotten to the quarterback, recording 1.5 sacks.

Adrian Amos may be the safety the Bears have wanted to get from the draft that they’ve been after for decades it seems. He has 25 tackles and just looks solid, almost always playing in the proper position. While McPhee was the steal of free agency, Amos could be the steal of the draft.

Kyle Fuller has had his ups and downs. He could get burned for a long touchdown on one play, then intercept a pass on the next play. He shows what he can do in flashes, but must be more consistent.

Overall, the defense is going in the right direction. There are still some personnel moves that need to be made, but with the trades, the Bears picked up some draft picks. The defense is not the laughingstock it has been the last two seasons. The monsters are on their way back.

Next: How special is the special teams?