We all wondered, heading into the bye week, whether Lovie Smith and Mike Martz could fix their offensive struggles. To a certain extent they did, committing to the run and minimizing the risks Jay Cutler takes down the field. But what’s been even more impressive is that since the bye week the Bears have been the best defense in the NFL. And right now, they are playing well enough to make a Super Bowl appearance feel much closer than I ever thought it would in 2010.
Use last night as the example.
Julius Peppers, Henry Melton and Israel Idonije looked unblockable on the edges, harassing Tyler Thigpen and limiting his escapability when the play broke down. When the ends didn’t get to the quarterback, the Bears used their trademark stunt blitz, took advantage of an overmatched Richie Incognito and sent Brian Urlacher after Thiggies.
Tommie Harris showed up and made one dominant tackle for a loss. Lance Briggs continued to play like the best run-stopping linebacker in the sport. Charles Tillman performed like the quintessential cover-2 corner. Chris Harris stayed home over-the-top and limited Brandon Marshall deep. Danieal Manning….Danieal….Manning….delivered the biggest hit of the night.
The Bears ran the ball all game last night not because they were running the ball well. They ran the ball all night because they knew the Dolphins could not score on them. They were right and pitched their first shutout since I watched Brian Urlacher intercept Chad Pennington in the end zone of the old Meadowlands. That was in 2006. A magical year. This defense might be better.
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