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Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Observations: D lacked toughness in 2013

By Jeff Dickerson

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- A conclusion was reached after the Chicago Bears' front office and coaching staff sifted through the wreckage of last year’s defense.

The unit, which ranked No. 30 overall and allowed a league worst 161.4 rushing yards per game, needed to toughen up.

First, the club went through the process of refortifying its defensive line with the additions of Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston, Willie Young and re-signing defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff for two years.

And to further accentuate the need to play with a greater edge in 2014, the Bears invited Hall of Famers Mike Ditka, Gayle Sayers and Mike Singletary, plus former linebacker and Super Bowl champion Otis Wilson, to speak to the team at various points in the offseason.

“We weren’t the tough team we wanted to be for a lot of different reasons,” Bears head coach Marc Trestman said on Wednesday. “We want to accentuate it this year. Playing football and being a Chicago Bear, we brought a lot of former alumni in here, and the universal language hasn’t just come from me. It has come from those people. We’re a team that wants to play -- even offensively -- with a defensive mentality. And there’s a way to play football in Chicago and that’s to be tough and physical, set a vertical edge, violent shed and run to the football. We’ve got to practice that way every day to be that team we want to be.

"We’re not there yet. We know that. We’re trying to get there because that’s the way every team plays in the National Football League. The best defenses play tough and physical. And games are won -- we talk about it every week -- there’s a lot of different ways to win, but you seldom win a game (in which) you don’t win the line of scrimmage. There’s seldom a game you win where you can’t at least somewhat run the ball effectively and stop the run. It all starts with the line of scrimmage. That has been a big point of emphasis."
Here are some other observations from Wednesday: