Chicago Bears run defense has tall task against Ravens in Week 11

Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images
Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images /

The Chicago Bears have struggled with run defense throughout the season. That needs to change in a hurry as they meet a Baltimore Ravens with a run-based offense.

The Chicago Bears had a week to rest and decompress. They are in the midst of a four-game losing streak and have a record of 3-6. Ironically, they are in the same position they were in last season coming out of the bye — a four-game losing streak. The difference is that they were at 5-5 so they had a better chance of making a run to the playoffs.

One of the biggest disappointments this season has been the Bears’ run defense. Even though the defense regressed over the past several seasons, the run defense was still strong. Last season, they ranked in rushing yards allowed but second in rushing touchdowns allowed.

This season has been very different, however. The Bears rank 23rd in rushing yards allowed and 20th in rushing touchdowns allowed. Opposing teams consistently gash the Bears on the ground.

Chicago Bears run defense has tall task against Ravens in Week 11

Coming into the season, the main concern about the Bears’ defense was the secondary. Yes, the unit had its trouble over the season, but it’s been hit or miss. The run defense just hasn’t been very good throughout the season. The team didn’t expect such big problems against the run.

Coming out of the bye things don’t get easier for the Bears. They face the Baltimore Ravens. They utilize a run-heavy offense.

Baltimore ranks in the top ten in most rushing categories. They run the second-most running plays in the NFL. In addition, they rank first in rushing yards, eighth in rushing touchdowns, and fifth in average rushing yards per carry.

All that means that head coach Matt Nagy and the rest of the Chicago Bears coaching staff better have made some big adjustments during their bye week. When their weakness is the other team’s strength, it doesn’t bode well.

The Ravens lost to the Miami Dolphins in Week 10. The Dolphins had a record of 2-7. That left a sour taste in Baltimore’s mouth. Most people expected the game to be an easy win. In a season in which one game could be the difference in resting in the first week of the playoffs or risking a loss.

The Bears could look at what the Dolphins did to pull off the upset. They did it by constantly blitzing and crowding the line of scrimmage. They harassed quarterback Lamar Jackson all game long and had bodies to stop the running game. They showed no respect for the Ravens’ passing game.

That game plan is easier for the Dolphins to utilize than the Bears. They have Xavien Howard and Byron Jones in their secondary. They are two of the toughest cornerbacks in the league. Because of how good they are, the Dolphins could blitz many times. They lead the league in blitzing percentage at 38.2 percent.

The Bears. on the other hand, aren’t in that position. As I mentioned earlier, their secondary is suspect. Their effective pass rush has helped cover up the deficiencies. Chicago has 25 sacks, which ranks seventh in the league. They’ve done that despite ranking 28th in blitzing percentage at 16.2 percent.

Cornerback Jaylon Johnson spoke on that recently. He noted the difficulty for the Bears to copy what Miami did.

"I feel like the theme of that game was to give them different looks and get pressure. I feel like they did that pretty much all game and were sending constant pressure and making the ball come out hot, making them really go through their route progression. It’s kind of hard to do that when you have six or seven people coming. They had a good game plan and the Ravens didn’t adjust to it."

Defensive coordinator Sean Desai likely wants to blitz more. Blitzing more risks big passing plays, though. Baltimore was slow in adjusting and throwing more because of Miami’s secondary. They won’t make that mistake again. Also, seeing the Bears’ secondary isn’t as good as Miami’s, they’ll surely challenge the unit.

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That means that Desai and company need to do whatever they can to figure out their run defense woes. They need to find out a way to improve in that area quickly. Whatever they need to do to get it done they should do it. If not, it will be another frustrating game.