Lance Briggs owns a barbecue restaurant in California called the Double Nickel Smokehouse. He named it after his jersey number, 55, but never could he have imagined double nickel would also signify the amount of points he and the defense allowed to the Green Bay Packers last night.
In one of the most lopsided defeats in franchise history, the Chicago Bears defense was listless and outmatched, both in effort and scheme. That begins with defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.
Against one of the best passing attacks in the league, led by arguably the greatest quarterback of his era, Tucker used his nickel package on just 25 of Green Bay’s 68 offensive snaps (37 percent).
In essence, Tucker was more worried about Eddie Lacy beating the defense than Rodgers, who took advantage of Chicago’s base 4-3 sets to the tune of six touchdowns.
By keeping the defense in base, it kept Demontre Hurst, the team’s nickelback and a much better coverage player than any of the team’s linebackers, off the field. That might make sense against Adrian Peterson but Green Bay ranked just 24th in the NFL in rushing coming into the game, with Lacy averaging just 4.1 yards per carry.
That makes very little sense.
As a result, the Bears defense gave up a “50 burger” for the second week in a row, becoming just the second team in NFL history to accomplish such an embarrassing feat.
Last season, the Bears finished 32nd in the NFL in rushing for the first time in team history. This year, the defense is allowing the their highest completion percentage (66.3), the most passing yards per game (269) and highest TD/INT ratio in franchise history.
Tucker’s defenses have allowed 50 or more points in three of the team’s last 11 games. In the previous 759 Bears games, the defense allowed 50 points three times total.
Under Tucker, a franchise that once prided itself on its tough-nosed, physical defense has turned into a turnstile for opposing offenses – and the laughing stock of the NFL. It’s clear that if Tucker lasts through the season – heck, if he even lasts through the week – nothing is going to change on the defensive side of the ball.
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.