Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

McKnight: Cowboys Reinforce 'D' Like Bears' Can Win

In an NFL filled with high-scoring offenses, defense can have its day too.

Connor McKnight
November 30, 2018 - 11:05 am
Categories: 

(670 The Score) The Saints had won 10 straight games.

The Cowboys forced a Drew Bees interception. They held Alvin Kamara to just 72 total yards and popped him short of the goal line on fourth down while the Saints were down 10-0. They were even physical enough with Michael Thomas to keep him from tilting the game.

All this is to say that maybe in today’s NFL, a good defense can win after all. If that’s the case, an elite-level squad like the Bears' can’t be wasted.

It might not be fun to watch, but being healthy in January means everything, and Nagy has to know that this special defense can’t be wasted.

The Bears have gotten fortuitous breaks in being able to rest starters in Mack and Allen Robinson against subpar teams in recent weeks. They can do the same if they sit Trubisky and Hicks against the Giants this weekend.

Still, the NFL reminds us time and again that it’s a win-now league. The Bears' defense is elite right now.

I won’t go so far as to say there should be more worry over the Achilles injury to Hicks than the shoulder issue Mitchell Trubisky is dealing with. The importance of the positions they play say enough. Add in the fact that coach Matt Nagy told reporters that Hicks is resting on more of a precautionary basis while Trubisky hasn’t begun to throw and, well, you get the point.

When general manager Ryan Pace traded for Khalil Mack, he was shoring up the defense for the short term and the long term. But as good as the Chicago defense is this season, given the ascension of Eddie Jackson, Kyle Fuller, Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Callahan and more, it’s fair to wonder if the 2018 Bears' defense ends up being the best one Mack plays on.

That’s the situation the Bears will find themselves in next season with Bryce Callahan headed to free agency. If the Bears use the franchise tag on him, it’ll come with the "cornerback" label and price tag — no nickel distinction or discount.

Keeping a defense elite seems a much harder task than maintaining a high-powered offense. No-name receivers get picked up in fantasy football every week because of their productivity. No-name pass rushers get cut. Slot cornerbacks are starters these days, and paying to keep one is expensive.

They were nuking opposing offenses at a league-high clip of 37.2 points per game. They were putting up 416.6 yards per game — good for fifth in the NFL. Drew Brees had thrown only two interceptions all year. Even the running game was hot, averaging 133.1 yards per game. It was a nearly perfect attack.

SPONSORED: Watch every Bears game this season with fuboTV -- click to start a free trial now!​

All this is to say that maybe in today’s NFL, a good defense can win after all. If that’s the case, an elite-level squad like the Bears' can’t be wasted.

Keeping a defense elite seems a much harder task than maintaining a high-powered offense. No-name receivers get picked up in fantasy football every week because of their productivity. No-name pass rushers get cut. Slot cornerbacks are starters these days, and paying to keep one is expensive.

That’s the situation the Bears will find themselves in next season with Bryce Callahan headed to free agency. If the Bears use the franchise tag on him, it’ll come with the "cornerback" label and price tag — no nickel distinction or discount.

When general manager Ryan Pace traded for Khalil Mack, he was shoring up the defense for the short term and the long term. But as good as the Chicago defense is this season, given the ascension of Eddie Jackson, Kyle Fuller, Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Callahan and more, it’s fair to wonder if the 2018 Bears' defense ends up being the best one Mack plays on.

I won’t go so far as to say there should be more worry over the Achilles injury to Hicks than the shoulder issue Mitchell Trubisky is dealing with. The importance of the positions they play say enough. Add in the fact that coach Matt Nagy told reporters that Hicks is resting on more of a precautionary basis while Trubisky hasn’t begun to throw and, well, you get the point.

Still, the NFL reminds us time and again that it’s a win-now league. The Bears' defense is elite right now.

The Bears have gotten fortuitous breaks in being able to rest starters in Mack and Allen Robinson against subpar teams in recent weeks. They can do the same if they sit Trubisky and Hicks against the Giants this weekend.

It might not be fun to watch, but being healthy in January means everything, and Nagy has to know that this special defense can’t be wasted.

Connor McKnight is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in middays. You can follow him on Twitter @C1McKnight.