Where is The Defense?
Defensive end Alex Brown wants people to stop focusing on the Chicago Bears' struggles on offense - and start looking at their difficulties on defense.
The underachieving Bears will be trying to bounce back from a disastrous defensive performance when they visit the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made Philadelphia -5 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday's game, the over/under has been set at 41 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 52% of bets for this game have been placed on Philadelphia -5 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
Chicago (2-4) allowed 444 yards in Sunday's 34-31 loss to Minnesota and let Adrian Peterson rush for 224 yards - the most against the Bears in their 88-year history.
"You talk all the time how bad the offense played when they play bad," Brown told the Bears' official Web site. "Talk about the defense. Talk about how bad we played today. Do that."
So much talk about Chicago's early struggles focused on ineffective quarterback Rex Grossman, and that only recently has begun to change with Brian Griese starting the last three games. Griese, who has thrown six interceptions and seven touchdown passes, was 26-of-45 for 381 yards with three TDs and two INTs against the Vikings in his first home game as the Bears' starter.
However, Chicago's rushing defense fell from 12th in the league to 26th at 134.2 yards allowed per game. The Bears, who gave up an NFC-low 294.1 yards per game last season en route to the Super Bowl, now rank second-to-last in the conference with 361.3 yards yielded per contest.
The Bears defense was without starting tackle Darwin Walker because of a knee problem and has been plagued by injuries this season. Still, the unit was upset with its performance.
"(When) the offense gives us 31 points, we should win," Brown said. "The special teams played great. The offense played great. We stunk. We played horrible."
The Bears now face a Philadelphia offense that ranks third in the NFC with 352.4 yards per game.
However, the Eagles (2-3) are hardly unstoppable, having scored just five touchdowns in 16 trips inside the red zone this season. Their only touchdown in Sunday's 16-9 win over the New York Jets was a 75-yard pass from Donovan McNabb to Kevin Curtis.
"We need to worry about the Bears more than who we're playing next, because we're not playing very good football," Chicago linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer said. "It's not what people are doing to us, it's what we're doing. Until we figure that out, it doesn't matter who we play, because if you don't do the basics of football, you're not going to win games."
The Bears fell into last place in the NFC North last week, and the Eagles remain in the NFC East cellar.
"We feel like we have a lot of one-game seasons coming up," Bears coach Lovie Smith said.
Chicago's lackluster defensive effort against the Vikings overshadowed an outstanding game from Devin Hester, who returned a punt 89 yards for a score and caught a game-tying 81-yard TD pass with 1:38 left. Hester has returned two punts and one kickoff for touchdowns this season, but had just one catch for three yards coming into the game.
Ryan Longwell's 55-yard field goal on the final play sent Chicago to the loss a week after it scored 10 points in the fourth quarter for a 27-20 comeback win at Green Bay. A week earlier at Detroit, Chicago gave up an NFL-record 34 points in the fourth quarter in a 37-27 loss.
"If there's a panic button anywhere around, we all need to race to it," Brown said. "We need to start winning right now. If we don't, it's going to be over."
The Eagles avoided panic mode with their win over the lowly Jets, but their offensive performance likely wouldn't have been enough against most teams.
"We've always talked about a one-game-at-a-time approach and with the parity the way it is in the National Football League, you've got to over-exaggerate that," coach Andy Reid said. "Don't worry about anything other than getting yourself better each week and the team that you're playing. You've got to make sure that you're preparing for them."
McNabb threw for 278 yards on 22-of-35 passing, and Brian Westbrook ran for 120 yards on 20 carries after missing a game with an abdominal strain. Still, the Eagles have managed only two touchdowns in four games, excluding a 56-21 win over Detroit in Week 3.
"We put ourselves in a bad position a couple of times. We didn't do exactly what we needed to do on offense, but when you win, you win and it feels great," Westbrook said.
Cornerback Lito Sheppard missed his fourth straight game with a knee sprain, but is confident he will be able to return against the Bears. Coach Andy Reid said safety Brian Dawkins, who has missed three games with a neck injury, also may be able to return.
The Eagles have won the last five meetings between the teams, including a 2002 playoff game, since a 20-14 loss in Chicago on Dec. 24, 1995. The Bears are visiting Philadelphia for the first time since 2000 and haven't won there since a 17-3 victory on Oct. 10, 1993.
By: AP Staff Writers - Email Us
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