Fresh off of a 41-3 drubbing of one of the worst teams in the National Football League, it’s easy to view this as a knee-jerk reaction. But given the play of this Chicago Bears defense over the past few weeks, it’s not hard to see that they are one of, if not the, best defensive units in the league.
For the second consecutive week, the defense put up almost as many points as the offense. Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman each returned interceptions for touchdowns against the Jacksonville Jaguars, just as they did in Week 4, against the Dallas Cowboys.
This is a unit finding success at every level. Even the few concerns that this team did have on the defensive side of the ball have already been quelled heading into the bye week.
As a unit, this Bears team already has five defensive scores, all coming from interception returns. That’s far and away the best in the league. Their 18 takeaways, including 13 interceptions are among the best in the league. But their success isn’t limited to the turnovers that they are forcing.
The Bears have 18 sacks on the season, which is tied for the best total in the league to this point. They’re also second in the league in run defense, allowing just over 65 yards per game on the ground. If it weren’t for the Cover 2 scheme that they run, they might be better than 13th in the league in pass defense, but their takeaway totals more than make up for that.
This is a unit that is playing at an extremely high level in both their front seven and in the secondary. The defensive line is incredibly strong, deep, and versatile. It’s a unit obviously led by Julius Peppers, but has also gotten contributions from the likes of Henry Melton, Israel Idonije, Shea McClellin, and even Corey Wootton.
The linebacking corps is as steady as it’s always been. Lance Briggs might just be the front runner for Defensive Player of the Year. Brian Urlacher is Brian Urlacher and Nick Roach is solid opposite Briggs.
However, it’s been the secondary that has been among the real surprises in this group. Charles Tillman is finally beginning to get some recognition for being the turnover machine that he is, in addition to being one of the games’ better veteran corners. Tim Jennings has been an absolute monster.
Even the play of the safeties, both Major Wright and Chris Conte, has been far better than anyone expected. Wright has three interceptions on the year, including one he returned for a score, and Conte has one.
The defense they run is not a perfect system. Teams are going to gain some yards on them, and probably even put up some points. But as a unit, this group is the best defensive unit you’ll see in the NFL. The combination of their prowess against the run and incredible ability to force multiple turnovers a game puts them firmly in a place as, arguably, the class of the league on the defensive side of the ball.