Amidst so much change, very little has changed for the Bears defense

Despite a host of new faces, including eight new starters, this year's Bears defense is just as bad as its predecessor.

The Chicago Bears gave up 48 points to the Arizona Cardinals yesterday. It was the most points a visiting team has ever scored at Soldier Field.

Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer was not sacked and threw four touchdowns; receiver Larry Fitzgerald caught three touchdowns, the first time in his career he's scored three times in a game; and rookie running back David Johnson touched the ball five times, scoring twice.

Two of Arizona's touchdowns came on defense and special teams, so only 34 points are the fault of Chicago's defense, but that's like saying you "held back" after having only two desserts.

The Bears defense is currently allowing 32.5 points per game and has yet to pick up a single sack. Things got so bad yesterday that cornerback Kyle Fuller, last year's first-round draft pick, was benched for a former seventh-round pick the team picked up off waivers last season.

We're only two games into defensive coordinator Vic Fangio's tenure in Chicago, so many are hesitant to throw him under the bus. He inherited a mess on defense and no one expects him to create the next coming of the 1985 Bears overnight.

The problem is that yesterday the Bears started seven new players on defense compared to last year: DE Jarvis Jenkins, NT Eddie Goldman, OLB Pernell McPhee, ILB Christian Jones, CB Alan Ball, S Adrian Amos and S Antrel Rolle. When you throw in Ego Ferguson - who didn't start a game his rookie year and would have started ahead of Will Sutton yesterday if not for a knee injury - and Sherrick McManis at nickelback, the Bears have brand new faces at all but three positions on the starting defense.

So when people say Fangio can't win with what he has, how much more does he need? The turnover on defense this off-season was substantial, and of the 11 players who started yesterday (12 if you include McManis) only Jared Allen, Kyle Fuller and Shea McClellin started more than five games for the Bears in 2014 (Sutton started five contests as a rookie).

If you have seven new starters, six of whom weren't even on the team last year, can you really blame the former GM for your failures this season?

Yes the Bears lack depth and are handcuffed by Allen's horrible contract - and by McClellin and Fuller in general - but this coaching staff was supposed to be the X factor. Fangio's presence was supposed to improve this defense immediately, and when GM Ryan Pace added new faces through both free agency and the draft at nearly every position, most predicted a noticeable jump in production right away.

Yet they've regressed, which is concerning. It's not time to start handing out pink slips to a staff in its incubatory stage but it's clear this team is going nowhere this season and the playoffs may be two to three years down the road.

Was that the long-term plan or have Pace and the new coaching staff bit off more than they can chew? It's far too early to say for sure but I'll tell you what, the top pick in next year's draft would be a nice place to begin a full-blown rebuild.

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If substantial improvements aren't made on the defensive side of the football the above projection will become a reality. That's the path this team is headed down, unless this coaching staff can quickly right the ship and find a way to squeeze production out of the players they have.

The Patriots don't have Pro Bowlers at every position and relied on a rookie undrafted free agent, Malcolm Butler, to win a Super Bowl title last season. What would Bill Belichick do with Chicago's defensive roster? 

If Fangio is truly a defensive genius, as he's been billed incessantly the past four-plus seasons, then these utterly embarrassing defensive performance like we saw yesterday must end. That's Mel Tucker stuff.

And if they don't, then maybe Fangio isn't the man for the job. The next 14 games are going to tell us a lot about Chicago's defensive savior.


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