LAKE FOREST — Bears defensive coaches and players were not about to bus-toss the offense after its historically inept performance in Sunday’s 26-6 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
There was an abundance of critics across sports radio and social media to take care of that.
Regarding the defense, which held the margin to a one-score game heading into the fourth quarter, defensive line coach Chris Rumph summed things up nicely.
“We got to have the mentality of a fireman. If somebody’s house is on fire, you call the firefighters to come put the fire out,” Rumph said. “They don’t sit there and say, ‘How’d the house get on fire? What happened?’ They put the fire out. They have to go to another house and put it out, they keep going. That’s their job. Our job is to prevent them from scoring, offense handle their business, we handle our business.”
The Bears defense sacked Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield five times and kept them in a game in which the offense gained its fewest yards in 40 years.
The defense would appear way down the list of who to blame for Sunday’s loss, although the players were not giving themselves a pass. Inside linebackers coach Bill McGovern is proud that middle linebacker Roquan Smith took responsibility.
“These guys are professionals, they understand,” McGovern said. “That’s part of the business. Strong people stand up at those times and Ro’s one of those guys we like to have.”
The play up front was one positive that could be drawn from Sunday.
Khalil Mack had two sacks, Robert Quinn had 1.5 sacks, Mario Edwards Jr. had one and Angelo Blackson had one. Mack had two other tackles for losses, while Quinn, Edwards, Akiem Hicks and Margus Hunt Hunt each had one.
Edwards, a defensive end, just returned from a two-game suspension for using performance-enhancing substances.
“It was good to have him back,” Rumph said. “It was good to see him get out there and make some plays and have some success and be out there with the guys.”
Quinn signed a five-year, $70 million deal before the 2020 season after recording 26.5 sacks in the three previous season, but had only two last year. He has four sacks in three games.
“Rob’s off to a good start this year,” outside linebackers coach Paul Shuey said. “He’s put in the work. He’s taking care of his body and that’s helped him. He knows his identity and he’s playing to his strengths right now.
“I’m happy for him as a person, because I know that there were certain challenges last year in terms of where his expectation is for himself. There was frustration. He’s his own roughest critic. I’m glad to see him having some success.”
The Browns finished with 418 total yards, 215 of which came on the ground. Even against one of the NFL’s best running teams, and being on the field for two-thirds of the game, the defense found that unacceptable.
“They’re professional athletes. Those guys go out there and they hold themselves to a high standard every time they want to get out there,” McGovern said. “On the other side of the ball, they get paid, too. But for us, when we’re out on the field, we’re paid to do our job and that’s what we have to do when we are on the field.”