Bears News: Eberflus on defense’s improvement, confidence in Halas Hall

Bears News: Eberflus on defense’s improvement, confidence in Halas Hall

by - Correspondent -

CHICAGO - In the last few games, the Bears just look like a different team. They have now won three of their last four games, including a two-win streak, with both games being against division opponents.

One crucial change head coach Matt Eberflus identified is the play of the defense, including safety Jaquan Brisker who had 17 total tackles in Sunday’s victory against the Lions, the most out of any player in franchise history since total tackles became a stat in 1994.

“He was beating guys to the push," Eberflus said. "I love his aggressiveness. If he was dropping in from the higher part of the field to be in single-high or just coming down from a shell, whatever shell coverage we’re playing, and being able to react to the run that way too,” Eberflus said. “So, did a really good job with that. His instincts and his passion really showed up, and that’s who he is he’s an aggressive guy, and he does a really good job tackling, and his instincts are elite. So he does a really good job with that.”

The pivotal turning point for Chicago’s defense was the addition of edge rusher Montez Sweat at the trade deadline. Since that trade, the defense as a whole has been improving with more pressure in the backfield, more sacks, and 11 turnovers just over the last three games.

Sweat opens up opportunities not just for him to make plays, but for his teammates to make plays when left one-on-one.

“You saw (Sunday) they were chipping him several times, which gives singles to other guys,” Eberflus said. “The fact that the last sack that (defensive lineman Justin Jones) had, it was a pick by Tez and (Jones) comes around and has a nice sack on the last one there, which is great. That’s a tribute to him, he’s going to pick for his teammate.”

Other additions from the offseason have also made their impact known throughout the season, including both starting linebacker additions - Tremaine Edmunds and TJ Edwards. Both were crucial in contributing to the turnover margin on Sunday, as Edmunds had an interception for the third time in the last five weeks.

Edwards also had a fumble recovery, making it his third week with a turnover.

“He’s been outstanding since he’s been here. The first thing you recognize with him is you watch his tape when he’s in Philly or even since he’s been here, is the instincts. He’s got great instincts for the football and that’s what you got to have as a linebacker. You got to have that, and he’s able to key and diagnose and beat guys to the punch quickly, and you see that week-in and week-out,” Eberflus said. “He’s not a guy that runs four-three. He doesn’t do that, he’s not super long. But, he makes up for it with instincts. He’s a football player, and that’s what you want in that position. So, he’s been great that way. He’s led our group all the way through, and he’s a big centerpiece to our defense for sure.”

Offensively, quarterback Justin Fields also stepped up in a big way with his first rushing touchdown since week two against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as well as 223 passing yards, his most since returning from his dislocated thumb. This game was one of the first he combined his arm ability with his legs, although his rushing attempts resulted in some uncalled late hits when sliding, something Eberflus attempted to bring to the attention of the referees.

“I’m very active about that. I’m always in their ear about that because protecting the quarterbacks in this league is big. Those guys are the league. So, it’s important that we do that and we continue to do that,” Eberflus said. “If you have a guy that’s a runner and he slides down like that, we got to protect him, and I wasn’t happy about that first one, and I let them know about it, and I was like, it’s just not the right thing to do. So, we just got to make sure we take care of our quarterback.”

With their first winning streak in the Eberflus era, the Bears go into one of their biggest challenges of the season against the Cleveland Browns (Noon/ FOX) with a lot of confidence. The Browns defense has been a bit inconsistent as of late, but their offense seems to have found something with veteran Joe Flacco at the helm.

A confident and momentum-driven team can overcome a lot, however.

“You can just feel confidence. The guys have always been confident in their approach and confident in their abilities,” Eberflus said. “But, you can see the feeling of confidence when you actually see the progress when you see it in the result, and you can certainly feel that with the players and the staff.”

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