LAKE FOREST — As one of the stingiest units in the league, the Chicago Bears defense has been swarming to the ball all season. The standout linebacking corps has led the charge, and its captain, 11-year veteran Brian Urlacher, said he believes the defense has not yet reached its true potential.
LAKE FOREST — As one of the stingiest units in the league, the Chicago Bears defense has been swarming to the ball all season.
The standout linebacking corps has led the charge, and its captain, 11-year veteran Brian Urlacher, said he believes the defense has not yet reached its true potential.
“We’re getting better. I think we’re still not where we want to be,” said Urlacher, who leads the Bears with 62 tackles. “We’re playing fast. I think that’s the No. 1 thing. We are getting to the football. If you watch the film, there’s nine, 10 guys to the football every play. That’s what you want to see as a defensive player.”
The Bears lead the league with 24 takeaways. They are also second in stopping the run (82.3 yards) and limiting opponents scoring (16.2 points a game), and No. 4 overall (301.9 yards).
With an offense ranked 29th in yards (297.3) and 23rd in points (19.4), it’s clear to see what has the Bears (6-3) tied atop the NFC North.
“This defense makes things happen for this team,” defensive tackle Anthony Adams said. “This is our second year working with coach (Rod) Marinelli, and we’re getting comfortable with it, and we’re trusting one another. Everybody steps up at different times. ... We’re all good with each other, and it shows up on the field. It’s a cool thing to be a part of.
“The linebacking group is where it all starts, too.”
Urlacher also has eight tackles for loss, 1½ sacks, three fumble recoveries and a forced fumble. Strong side linebacker Lance Briggs has 45 tackles, six for a loss, a sack and two forced fumbles. Pisa Tinoisamoa has 34 tackles, four for loss, a sack and a fumble recovery from the other side.
The Chicago secondary is reaping the benefits of playing behind such a strong unit, helping the Bears grab 14 interceptions, No. 2 in the league.
“Our linebacker corps is definitely on fire. There’s nothing that group can’t do,” rookie safety Major Wright said. “I love playing behind that group of linebackers. They just keep setting us up.”
The line agrees.
“I do believe we have the best linebacking crew in the league,” defensive lineman Matt Toeaina said. “Briggs, Urlacher and Pisa, they all just fly to the ball. They’ve got a knack for the ball and they’re always there. It makes everything easier for all of us.”
Their next challenge comes Thursday night against a Miami Dolphins offense that is 26th in scoring (19.1 points), 16th in yards (344.3) and is down to its No. 3 quarterback after Chad Pennington and Chad Henne were hurt last week.
“We’re getting takeaways,” Urlacher said. “Those are huge for us. If we keep getting those, we’re going to have a chance to win a lot of games.”
Bears reporter Jay Taft can be reached at 815-987-1384 or firstname.lastname@example.org.