Chicago Sun-Times

HOP­ING THE WORST IS OVER

Pagano knows ‘D’ was a mess, vows ‘huge leap’ in Week 2

- mpotash@sun­times.com | @MarkPo­tash MARK POTASH

If not for Lions run­ning back D’An­dre Swift’s drop in the end zone Sun­day, the Bears’ vaunted de­fense would have spent this week un­der even more scru­tiny than quar­ter­back Mitch Tru­bisky and the hotand-cold of­fense.

Hop­ing to re­gain its bite from 2018, when it led the NFL in six ma­jor cat­e­gories, in­clud­ing take­aways with 36, the Bears’ de­fense in­stead al­lowed 426 yards on 72 plays (5.9 av­er­age) and 23 points. That’s the most yards al­lowed by the Bears in a sea­son opener since 1965 (485 against the 49ers) and the sec­ond­most in fran­chise history. It’s the most yards al­lowed by the Bears in any game since 2018, when they al­lowed 541 (429 in reg­u­la­tion) in an over­time loss to the Dol­phins.

De­fenses were sur­mised to be ahead of of­fenses af­ter a pan­demic-af­fected off­sea­son. But af­ter one game, the Bears are left hop­ing the op­po­site is true — that they were merely shak­ing off the rust af­ter an off­sea­son with lit­tle tack­ling and no game-speed snaps.

“Some of it’s that,” de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Chuck Pagano said. “It’d be easy to make those ex­cuses, but our guys won’t do it. Coaches won’t do it. I won’t do it. We played [72] snaps — that’s way too many. We have to be bet­ter on third down [the Lions were 6-for-16]. Gave up a third-and-10, gave up a third-and-17 — that’s just bad ball.

“I have to do a bet­ter job of putting them in po­si­tion to get out of those sit­u­a­tions. That’s on me. We just have to play bet­ter. And we will play bet­ter. I have to coach bet­ter.”

The Bears were with­out nose tackle Ed­die Gold­man, who opted out of the sea­son. Out­side linebacker Robert Quinn (an­kle) did not play and was lim­ited in prac­tice again Thurs­day. His sta­tus for Sun­day’s game against the Giants is un­known.

Rookie cor­ner­back Jay­lon John­son was a bright spot with two pass break-ups, in­clud­ing the fi­nal play of the game in the end zone. But all in all, the de­fense lacked sharp­ness, most notably linebacker Danny Tre­vathan, who had seven tack­les but didn’t have his usual mo­bil­ity and strug­gled in pass cov­er­age — in­clud­ing the drop by Swift that would have given the Lions the lead with six sec­onds to play.

“Danny had some re­ally good plays. I know there’s some plays he’d like back,” in­side linebacker coach Mark DeLeone said. “I think Danny knows the mis­takes he had. He’s a com­peti­tor. He’s go­ing to be able to cor­rect those. I know he’s ex­cited about that to get back to work this week.”

Pagano avoided as­sess­ing Tre­vathan’s per­for­mance. The vet­eran’s out­stand­ing history cer­tainly af­fords him some lee­way.

“At times we all played re­ally good, and at times we didn’t do our job well,” Pagano said. “There were times I didn’t do my job well. It’s Game 1. It’s Week 1 . . . . We’ll be much bet­ter. I ex­pect a huge leap from Week 1 to Week 2.”

 ?? PAUL SANCYA/AP ?? The Lions’ D’An­dre Swift scores a one-yard touch­down against the Bears on Sun­day. Swift’s dropped pass late in the game, af­ter he beat linebacker Danny Tre­vathan in cov­er­age, al­lowed the Bears to stay alive.
PAUL SANCYA/AP The Lions’ D’An­dre Swift scores a one-yard touch­down against the Bears on Sun­day. Swift’s dropped pass late in the game, af­ter he beat linebacker Danny Tre­vathan in cov­er­age, al­lowed the Bears to stay alive.
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA