So, it’s official: Neither Tim Jennings nor Zack Bowman can cover.
Same goes for D.J. Moore, if Saturday’s game against a bad Tennessee team is any indication. All three defensive backs got beat, some badly, some embarrassingly, particularly when Jennings got leapfrogged.
To think, a year ago Bowman replaced Charles Tillman at left corner, and now he can’t beat out a guy who has a habit of being out of position.
The real problem with the defensive backs, however, is that the defensive line hasn’t covered up the unit’s coverage shortcomings.
The starting defense hasn’t taken away the ball this exhibition season. That starts with the defensive line, the most important part of Lovie Smith’s Tampa-2 scheme. The only thing that saves this from causing full-blown panic is that the Bears haven’t game-planned to stop an opponent.
But still, Tennessee is such a bad opponent, especially without perhaps the best running back in the league, that even without a game plan the Bears still should’ve dominated. But didn’t.
I’ll also point out the Bears got pantsed in the last four minutes of the first half. The Bears tried to slow an already slow Matt Hasselbeck by blitzing. Three things about that:
First, if the Bears have to blitz, then the defensive line isn’t getting there and is going to get yelled at.
Second, if the Bears’ blitz can’t get there, either, then everybody is going to get yelled at.
And third, the Bears didn’t take away the ball.
I haven’t found anybody who doesn’t believe this defense is going to be good, even great. I haven’t found anybody who doesn’t believe the exhibition issues will change when the real season starts.
But I also haven’t seen Smith as urgent and strident about his defense, especially as regards the utter lack of takeaways. That tells me something. His concerns override his confidence. Worth noting, I believe.
And imagine, if the improbable happens along a defensive line that starts with Julius Peppers, then the Bears will have done the impossible with their cornerbacks: produced a position group less reliable and less desirable than their wideouts.