Chicago Bears Defense Is Missing Chris Harris

The Chicago Bears defense isn’t playing like themselves in 2011 through the first 4 weeks. The Bears are an even 2-2, but something on the D just isn’t adding up.  My first glance tells me the defensive line hasn’t been generating the same kind of pressure as last season, but I think it’s deeper than that.  We all know that in order for the Bears zone scheme to be successful the front 4 has to get after the QB, and I do think they’ve been adequate with sacks, hurries, and knockdowns so far. Room for improvement yes, but ok.

In 2011 the Bears are allowing 24.5 ppg after allowing  just 17.9 ppg last season and they are giving up over 300 yards through the air after last year allowing 224. Quarterbacks are taking advantage of breakdowns in the Bears zone defense, and the biggest problem could be missing the injured Chris Harris.  The Bears need the veteran safety patrolling the secondary.

The Hit Man has missed the last 3 games with a hamstring injury and you can really see the effect his absence has on the back end of the defense.  He may be the slowest of all the safeties on the team, but his familiarity with the Tampa 2 and the Bears defense overall allows him to play fast.

The newest Bears safety, former Patriot Brandon Meriweather, still seems like he’s trying to figure things out with the Chicago scheme.  He’s been out of position a handful of times and it’s hurt the Bears by giving up big plays. The safeties in the Bears scheme can’t gamble. They have to trust that everyone in front of them will do their job, stay in their zones or contain their gaps.

Biting on a run fake or stepping up in anticipation of a pass for just a split second is all it takes to allow a QB to hit an opening in the zone. When playing 2 deep the corners are expecting the over the top help to be there, and with Chris Harris back there it’s a safe assumption, but with everyone else, not so much. If Harris is able to play this Monday night in Detroit I expect the Bears defense to resemble what we all expect it to be.

On a related note, the Bears better not allow the free agent to be Harris walk away after this season. The revolving door at safety is comical, and Chicago needs some stability at the position. Re-sign Chris Harris. And while we’re talking about new deals, get Matt Forte’s done too.