- Jeff Dickerson, ESPN Staff Writer
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The general consensus is that Green Bay is poised to cruise to an easy victory on Monday night, especially with the Chicago Bears being without starting quarterback Jay Cutler and seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs.
In the past, such negative public sentiment would be used as bulletin board material. But after losing three of four, veteran cornerback Charles Tillman understands why the Bears will be cast in the underdog role at Lambeau Field.
“That’s cool, everyone is entitled to their own opinion,” Tillman said Saturday. “So it’s fine. I’m OK with it. We obviously must have given them a reason to think that. Until we start to make some plays and win games, then maybe we turn some heads. I don’t know. But I’m OK with what they say. I try not to get caught up in the media. You guys do a really good job of hyping up the games … Monday night, this … Monday night, that … Bears vs. Packers. It’s just a game. I treat them all the same.”
This is unchartered territory for Tillman, arguably the greatest defensive back in franchise history. For the majority of his decorated 11-year NFL career, Tillman has experienced great success on defense, both individually and collectively. But while the cornerback is having another quality season with 37 tackles, three interceptions and two forced fumbles in six games, the overall defensive effort has been sub-par. The Bears enter Monday ranked No. 27 in total defense (391.0) and No. 29 in points allowed (29.4) – a sharp decline for a group that just last year finished with the No. 5 overall defense in the NFL.
“It’s definitely frustrating because this is something I’ve never been a part of: giving up this many points,” Tillman said. “It’s foreign to me. It’s new to me. I definitely don’t like it. It leaves a sour taste in your mouth. But I think the bye week came at a perfect time because it gave our coaches and our defense enough time to focus and sit back and evaluate us. It’s not about the opponent, it’s about us.
"Coaches can only take so much blame. At some point and time, that blame has to go [toward] the players. I take full responsibility for my group not playing well. I’m sure [Julius] Peppers takes it for his [group struggling] and I’m sure Lance [Briggs] takes the responsibility for his group of linebackers. We just haven’t been playing well. We are not making the plays we are supposed to make. We are not taking advantage of the opportunities that have been given to us.”