How well Coached Are the Bears? Watch the Defensive Backs

Kevin Fishbain at The Athletic talks about the deficiencies in the Bears defense along the defensive front.

“Part of the ‘it’s only three games, but it’s been really bad’ dissection of the Bears has to include the defensive line and linebackers, one of the few groups on the team that is actually healthy but doesn’t have the game-changing plays to show for it.

“Linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards and defensive ends DeMarcus Walker and Yannick Ngakoue are some of the highest-paid players on the team. Add Day 2 draft picks Gervon Dexter and Zacch Pickens, and there was no question what the point of emphasis was on defense.”

There’s a lot of truth in this. But we knew all off-season that the pass rush was going to be a major problem for the Bears this year. The Bears didn’t do a lot to improve it beyond the late signing of Ngakoue and he wasn’t going to make them competent alone.

The key was and still is the development of second round pick Dexter and third round pick Pickens. Right now they are the foundation upon which the Bears defensive hopes are being laid. As fans, when you are watching a bad team week after week the only thing that can keep you sane is to look for improvement over the course of the season.

But how can you tell if these players are getting the right coaching? Indeed, how can you tell if players are getting the right coaching in general? Progress tends to be incremental. The stats aren’t likely to show up game-to-game and trends won’t really be noticeable until later in the season.

One easy thing that I look at to evaluate the general state of the team is to watch the break downs in coverage on the back end. This doesn’t tell us a lot about the other units directly but it is obvious to the average observer and it is an indication of what kind of coaching the players are getting.

Don’t get me wrong. Its still on the players when break downs like this happen. But mental errors when they are wide spread and not isolated to one individual are usually an indication of whether coaches have the players ready to perform.

In this respect the Bears have been miserable. The breakdowns in coverage were countless in week one, making Jordan Love look like Joe Montana. But much, much worse is the fact that these breakdowns have continued and were almost as bad in week 3, resulting in at least one easy, wide open touchdown. Even Fishbain was easily able to identify a a breakdown that Patrick Mahomes didn’t even have to take advantage of to make a big play.

The excuse for such poor play has been injuries to the defensive backfield, as pointed out here by Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune. But that’s hog wash. Injuries aren’t an excuse for this. The back ups are professional players, too, and while they might lack talent, they should still be prepared to maximize what they have by playing good, fundamental football.

The poor play of the defensive backs is a disturbing trend on this team. That’s not because of their play as a unit so much as it is because its an indication of poor team play as a whole in ways that are less noticeable to the average observer.

That’s bad news for those of us who are going to watch 14 more games of this slop.

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