High scoring defense adds new meaning to the phrase ‘Bear Down’

Josh Dillon, IV Leader sports editor

Charles Tillman, the pro bowl cornerback for the Chicago Bears, won NFL defensive player of the month for October.

The Bears defense so far this season has been legendary in terms of dominance.

When you watch this team, you see the fruits of Lovie Smith’s labor in motion.

It’s a veteran team for sure, with many players getting over that magic age of 30, but that veteran savvy and know-how have been more valuable than any energy from youth.

The Bears’ cover-2 system has been one of scrutiny over time. It’s a “bend but don’t break” system that allows too many field goals and relies on opponents making mistakes over forcing teams to punt.

But, this season, Smith has been less likely to use that philosophy and more for allowing his players to make plays.

Experience runs rampant in the Bears’ defensive system, with players like Tillman, Lance Briggs, and Brian Urlacher all as career-Chicagoans that have bought into the philosophy.

A few years back, people questioned the signing of DE Julius Peppers, wondering why the Bears chose to strengthen their defense instead of finding some offensive firepower to make a more balanced team.

That deal has never been questioned now, as Peppers has been phenomenal in Chicago, drawing double teams and holding penalties and allowing other lineman like Israel Idonije, Henry Melton, and rookie Shea McClellin to get to the quarterback and make plays.

The Bears run a major defensive line rotation, switching players in each situation to their strength, and it’s not farfetched to see four defensive ends on the line during a third and long, to force the opposing quarterback to make a mistake.

Those mistakes have allowed the secondary to flourish with Tillman and September’s defensive player of the month Tim Jennings capitalizing frequently. Chicago leads the league with 16 interceptions, six of which were returned for touchdowns, two by Tillman, two by Lance Briggs, one from Jennings, and one from safety Major Wright.

The Bears have also been taking the ball away through fumbles, as they’ve recovered six of those, including some while backed up on their own goal line.

Against the Jaguars, Chicago recovered two fumbles in the red zone, stopping Jacksonville from putting up at least six points, if not more since one of the fumbles had to be reviewed to see if the running back actually scored before he dropped it.

The mantra is “Offense wins Games; Defense wins Championships.” If that’s the case, then I’d expect to see this 2012 Chicago Bears team bring home the Lombardi trophy.

They’re holding opponents to under 15 points a game and if they continue to put points on the board, so all Jay Cutler and the offense has to do is avoid mistakes.

The Bears have a chance to bring it all home.