Bears' Defense Seeks Redemption

In its last trip to Green Bay, Chicago was outclassed and run over to the tune of 200 rushing yards. With Lovie Smith running the Bears' defense now, it's a new attitude not a new scheme.

For a defense looking to make amends for two subpar seasons following the 2006 Super Bowl run, nothing offers a better shot at redemption than a Sunday night date with the Packers at Lambeau Field.

Ten months ago, the Bears received a thorough butt-kicking up there in a 37-3 loss, the worst defeat in Lovie Smith's tenure.

"Last year was ugly," linebacker Brian Urlacher said. "We don't want to see that again. That wasn't us. We didn't play well. We gave up a lot of yards, a lot of points. We've got to play better than that."

The Bears were outgained 427-234 and thoroughly embarrassed by being outrushed 200-83, the most yards they allowed on the ground in any game last season.

"We just weren't able to make plays, and we missed a lot of tackles," defensive end Adewale Ogunleye said. We've been watching that film the last two weeks now and they just ran the ball down our throats and gave it to us pretty good. We just weren't able to stop it."

In each of Smith's first four years as head coach, the Bears went up to Lambeau Field and defeated their biggest rival. But he believes last year's loss can serve as motivation.

"I was wondering how long it would be before that game was brought up," Smith said. "We've watched that game quite a bit. That's what happens when you're not really ready to play. I didn't have our football team ready to play that game. We're working on that. We're looking forward to having the chance to redeem ourselves."

Since the defensive personnel is essentially the same, it's logical to wonder how the Bears plan to perform better before a national television audience against a Packers offense that still has Ryan Grant at running back, Aaron Rodgers at quarterback and 1,000-yard receivers Greg Jennings and Donald Driver.

New attitude, increased aggressiveness and renewed health and confidence are four reasons.

"You will see on Sunday, basically, how we're going to just attack just the run," Ogunleye said. "It's going to start with just the front four guys. It's not a new scheme, it's a new attitude. But the key is when we get there we've got to tackle. We did a very bad job of that last year."

Not only is Smith running the defense, but former Lions head coach Rod Marinelli is coaching the defensive line. Plus, they've added Pisa Tinoisamoa to a linebacking corps of Urlacher and Lance Briggs.

"If you watch the preseason, there's not a whole lot of difference," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "If you break down their defensive calls statistically, there's a lot of carryover from Bob Babich to Lovie Smith. I've had an opportunity to compete against Lovie as a coordinator back in New Orleans, so I spent my summertime looking at those games. Rod's a very good coach. His defensive lines have always been very disruptive. It's a veteran group, so they look like they're playing well. They fly around. I think the best thing they've got going is their experience. I think Pisa was a good addition for them at linebacker. It's a good linebacker group. I have a lot of respect for him in his time in St. Louis. We're playing a veteran defense. They're well-coached and they have a complete understanding of their scheme. You have to play this defense a certain way."

Urlacher's feeling regenerated because he didn't spend the offseason recovering from neck surgery or rehabbing an arthritic back as he had the previous two years.

"I feel stronger," he said. "No rehab this offseason. I was just able to train for football. I had a good training camp, stayed healthy and got through the preseason games pretty good. I just feel confident in my body and my abilities again."

As a whole, defensive captains Urlacher and Ogunley believe a more aggressive mindset has the entire unit playing faster. With Smith taking over the defensive play-calling and the defensive meetings, and with the addition of Marinelli, aggressiveness has been amped up.

"We're getting up the field," Urlacher said. "We're attacking our gaps; not just the D-linemen, but linebackers also. We're going downhill again, running through our gaps, not stopping. Our keys are quick. We read our keys and we go hit a gap, and that's the way it should be. We're pretty confident right now on defense."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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