- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Fresh off one of his most impactful performances of the 2012 season, Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher says there's still room to grow for the club's defense as it prepares for Sunday's matchup against the Carolina Panthers.
Urlacher contributed seven tackles, including one for lost yardage, in addition to gobbling up a fumble in the third quarter Monday night that played a role in Chicago's 13-7 win over the Detroit Lions.
"We're always gonna say we can do better," Urlacher said. "Third down we weren't very good. So we can always get better there. (We) can always get more sacks. We missed some opportunities (against the Lions)."
Urlacher says it's time the defense did a better job of capitalizing.
That's not to say the unit hasn't done an impressive job through the first six games. After all, the defense, statistically, is the stingiest in the league in terms of points allowed (13 per game). They've also scored five touchdowns, and lead the NFL in takeaways (21).
Furthermore, the Bears nabbed five of their takeaways in the red zone, which ranks as tops in the NFL.
"We're not even No. 1 in the NFL on defense because it goes by yards, which doesn't mean a lot to us," Urlacher said. "Points and takeaways, all that stuff means a lot to us. They're getting recognition because of all the big plays we've had, and that's good. That's the way it should happen."
Still, Urlacher isn't satisfied, and credits the offense with putting the defense in advantageous situations by building leads.
"Most of the games haven't been close," Urlacher said. "We haven't been on the field a lot as a defense. Our offense has run the ball pretty well, converted on third down, and I don't think they get enough credit for how much we haven't been on the field."
When they are on the field, Urlacher believes the key to the group's fast start has been better overall knowledge of the system, considering the 2012 version of the defense features largely the same personnel as last season.
"We know what we're doing. We've run a lot of Cover 1, Cover 2. We haven't blitzed a lot. When we've wanted to, we've blitzed," Urlacher said. "And we're doing things the right way; we're not making mistakes. We're letting teams make all the mistakes. We go for the football and haven't made a lot of mistakes, and when we do make one, we rally to the football and overcome those mistakes."
Brian Urlacher says the Bears' defense still has room to improve.