Right now, Bears players are saying all the right things, but how long before the frustration level gets too high, and then supportive messages of solidarity give way to dissension?
By Herb Howard
A couple of weeks ago I was having a conversation with Robert Quinn in the Chicago Bears locker room at Halas Hall about some of his favorite pass rushers. He mentioned Robert Mathis, the Pro Bowl Defensive End who played for the Indianapolis Colts from 2003-2016. We talked about the lethal combination that Mathis and Dwight Freeney were as a pass rushing tandem for those Colts teams. Quinn expressed how nice it must’ve been for those guys to be able to consistently rush the passer while playing with a lead.
During Mathis’ 14yr career, the Colts produced a Top-10 scoring Offense 9 times (5 times in the Top 3), and finished outside of the Top-15 only 3 times. Led by Peyton Manning, that Offense featured Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Edgerrin James, and Dallas Clark. The defense entered nearly every game comfortably believing that as long as they didn’t give up 30 points, the team would win.
Reviewing Robert Quinn’s career, it was clear that he rarely had such luxuries on the teams he played for. Still, Quinn has amassed 102 sacks in his career, good for 35th all-time since sacks became an official stat in 1982. That experience should help Rob during this 2022 Bears season, as there is no reasonable expectation of explosive offensive outputs.
On Thursday Night Football, against a bad Washington Commanders team, the Bears defense only allowed 12 points - the only touchdown coming after Velus Jones Jr. muffed a punt that the Commanders recovered at the Bears 6yd line - but the Bears offense only managed to score 7 points all night.
Three times the Bears offense had the ball inside Washington’s 5yd line, and each time they walked away with zero points.
Any defense that only allows 12 points in a football game has a reasonable expectation of victory. That expectation led to huge disappointment for the Bears on Thursday night. And it's natural for that to become very frustrating for a defense. Next, one may wonder if that frustration will lead to dissension between the offense and defense.
When asked about it, Center Sam Mustipher told The Bigs Media, “The defense has every right to be frustrated. But dissension? No. I know they believe in us, and they trust in us to get it done.”
I asked veteran safety Eddie Jackson about the frustration level of the defense after such a game. He said “Wins and losses don’t always reflect how well you played. But, at the end of the day, it’s a team sport and we came up short.” He went on to say “Some teams can break apart in situations like this, but I feel like we’re gonna get closer, put our heads down and keep working.”
Those sentiments were echoed by other defensive leaders, including rookie Jaquan Brisker, who told me that the Defense needs to find ways to create turnovers and take the ball away, something they did not do in Thursday’s loss.
At the moment, players on offense and defense are saying all the right things. Yet another indication that they are buying into the new culture being ushered in by first year Head Coach Matt Eberflus.
This is a team that seems unified and certainly willing to fight for four quarters. But, with another primetime game coming up next Monday night in New England, followed by a trip to play the 4-1 Dallas Cowboys, before returning home to face the high-powered Miami Dolphins, losses could mount quickly if the Bears don’t begin to play more complimentary football.
At that point, the frustration level may get too high, and then supportive messages of solidarity just may give way to dissension.
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