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Thursday, October 28, 2010
Numbers show improvement in defense

By Jeff Dickerson

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Numbers tell the story of the 2010 Chicago Bears defense through seven games.

"The numbers are good," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "You know, it’s always good to be up there in total yardage. But you know we don’t look at that a lot. We look at scoring defense. We’re right at the top … third downs, taking the ball away. You know the guys have just really played hard and played well throughout. I’m pretty pleased with where we are headed into this next phase."

Blessed with relative good health up to this point, the Bears are performing better in almost every major statistical defensive category than last season's unit after seven games.

Under the guidance of first-year defensive coordinator Rod Marinell, the Bears have surrendered fewer touchdowns, yards per game and rushing yards, while increasing the number of interceptions and fumble recoveries, and lowering the percentage of opponents' third-down conversions.

Oddly enough, the Bears actually have fewer sacks and have given up more passing yards, despite the offseason addition of prized defensive end Julius Peppers.

"We're coming out and playing at a very high level," Marinelli said. "The consistency is what I'm pleased with. Down in and down out, [we're just] playing the snap and playing together as a team. We just have to maintain that.

"Our system is all based on teamwork. Sometimes you have to give up an opportunity to make a play, and allow a teammate to make a play. That's the discipline we are looking for."