The Bears defense put forth one of their worst defensive efforts in recent memory against the Rams in Week 1. There were busted coverages, missed tackles and mental mistakes. But one thing that bothered Matt Nagy was the lack of “swag.” On a unit filled with playmakers and high-octane personalities like Eddie Jackson and Akiem Hicks, for some reason the defense looked flat on Sunday Night Football.
But that changed in a big way, in Week 2.
“Throughout this week there was an emphasis on to bring those characteristics: energy, passion, playing hard throughout the snap,” said Hicks. “Having those things enmeshed in us during the week, and then just before the game we all reminded ourselves, ‘This is what we want our defense to look like.’ And I think we came out and showed it today.
“With respect to that team, we imposed our will.”
While it’s technically an “intangible,” you can sense when the defense is feeling swaggy. They carry themselves differently, and they tend to play differently too一 with more of an edge. Against the Bengals that resulted in four sacks and four takeaways. Those results played a huge role in the team’s win, too.
“It means a lot to the defense, being able to get out there, celebrate amongst each other,” Roquan Smith said. “It gets the fans into it. It gets everyone into it. It just brings a different level of energy. We keep that, it becomes contagious.”
It may sound cliché, but the players seemed genuine when they said playing in front of home fans for the first time since 2019 helped the defense regain that edge.
“It felt good just to see all the towels rocking, the stadium rocking,” said Jaylon Johnson. “It was just a good feeling having all the energy that they had and just having them on our back, just pushing us. We live for that type of moment. It was honestly about keep pushing, keep bringing the juice. That's what we did.”
“Especially after last week, we needed that type of energy,” said Tashaun Gipson. “We came out here and we fed off the fans.”
But doing it one week isn’t going to be enough. The defense will need to bring this same level of intensity week in and week out. The players understand that too.
“I think that’s just something we’re going to have to stay on ourselves about if this is the type of football you want to put on tape. So I think that’s just going to be the message going forward.”
So can the Bears do that? Can they bring that energy and play at an elite level again?
“No question,” Hicks said. “No doubt in my mind.”