It was just one preseason game but that was the contest in which the starters played the entire first half, making it a dress rehearsal of sorts. During those first two quarters, the Bears were outscored 31-0.
The Seahawks scored on each of their first five drives, racking up 250 total yards in the first half. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson passed for 174 yards in the first two stanzas, while the run game racked up 85 yards before halftime.
Yet, despite the lopsided defeat, Bears linebacker Jon Bostic isn’t ready to put the Week 3 game behind him.
“It’s definitely film I like to go back and watch because those are things that are fixable,” Bostic told Bear Report. ““A lot of the things we saw on film are definitely fixable. That was a positive for us.”
Coach Marc Trestman agrees with his second-year linebacker’s assessment of last Friday’s debacle.
“The areas that we looked at that we failed in, we think we can fix,” Trestman said. “We certainly can prevent pre-snap penalties. We certainly can prevent late hits. We certainly believe we can contain the quarterback and keep him in the pocket and prevent him from extending plays. The tape showed us that. Those are correctable issues.”
Defensively, it starts in the trenches where the front seven was routinely punched in the mouth by Seattle’s power run game. It then moves to pocket contain and then finishing in the secondary. If the Bears can truly improve in those three areas over the next week and a half, the defensive performance in Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills shouldn’t be as horrific as it was against the Seahawks.
“We didn’t play how we wanted to play,” said Bostic. “But we also know, with the expectations we have for this defense, we’ll definitely hit some bumps in the road. Really, it’s how you respond. This will be our first chance to get back and jump back and respond. We made the adjustments and we just have to make sure those adjustments carry over to the field.”
Getting CB Kyle Fuller and DE Jared Allen on the field, neither of whom played on Friday, should be a big boost to the defense. Yet both Fuller and Allen are two of numerous new defensive pieces currently attempting to jell.
The Bears will potentially starting eight new defenders in Week 1 this year compared to opening day last year, as well as a new No. 3 defensive end and nickelback. With all those new parts attempting to work in tandem, it shouldn’t comes as a huge surprise Chicago was drop-kicked by the defending Super Bowl champions.
“That’s the way it goes. It’s going to take time,” Bostic said. “We’ve got to work day by day to make sure we’re ready by this first game.”
In spite of the disappointing returns of the defense as a whole, Bostic has improved this offseason, particularly against the run. Against the Seahawks and the Jacksonville Jaguars the past two weeks, he graded second highest in run defense amongst all Bears defenders in each contest, per Pro Football Focus.
He’s been aggressive and explosive at the point of attack, which is a great sign for a linebacker who struggled mightily taking on blocks his rookie season.
Yet coordinator Mel Tucker feels Bostic has improved in coverage as well.
“Yes, just an understanding of the different types of zones, I think he’s grasping that,” Tucker said this week. “He’s playing faster, I think he’s comfortable in what we’re asking him to do and I think he’s playing more aggressively.”
Bostic said his development in coverage dates back to his collegiate career at Florida, where he was a two-year starter and team captain.
“It really started in college,” said Bostic. “In college, backers didn’t come off the field in base or nickel. To be honest, my freshman and sophomore year, we took a defensive lineman off the field in nickel and moved one of the linebackers down to rush.
“Backers always stayed on the field to cover so it’s really nothing that’s new for me. It’s something I’m used to. We made a name for ourselves playing Cover 2 and playing 2 man, we played a lot of man to man, so those things definitely translate to here.”
If Bostic continues to develop and Chicago’s defense makes the improvements he believes they can make, there’s no reason they can’t finish as a middle-of-the-pack unit. With a Bears offense expected to light up the scoreboard this season, an average defense should be enough to propel the Bears into the playoff for the first time since 2010.
There is still a lot of work left to be done but it’s not an impossible task. As Bostic correctly points out, most of the issues on defense are correctable. If this year’s defensive staff and players are worth their paychecks, we should see a much-improved defensive performance on opening day.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.