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Titans a lot like Bears used to be
By Mike Imrem | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 11/10/2008 12:12 AM

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Bears safety Mike Brown said all that needed to be said about the Tennessee Titans on Sunday afternoon.

"They play the way we want to play," he noted.

That was soon after the Titans' did it their way during a fairly fundamental 21-14 victory over the Bears in Soldier Field.

Solid defense, control the clock, win the battle for field position - all the elements fans here became accustomed to from the Bears over the years.

Not surprisingly, Tennessee's Jeff Fisher emerged from Soldier Field two decades ago to become one of the NFL's best coaches.

Fisher played defensive back for the Bears the first half of the 1980s. Mike Ditka was his head coach. Buddy Ryan was his defensive coach.

Leslie Frazier - Fisher's former Bears teammate and currently the Vikings' defensive coordinator - summed it up this way in the Tennessean newspaper:

"Coach Ditka had an in-your-face team that could run the football and play good defense, and Jeff has kind of taken that to Tennessee.

"I don't know if you can trace that back to Chicago, but that is exactly what Coach Ditka taught our team to be."

The style was good enough for the Bears to win Super Bowl XX. It's still good enough for the Titans to be 9-0 this season.

Fisher told the Tennessean that he learned from Ditka, "The expectation you are going to win the physical battle and in turn win the game."

The Bears tried their best to beat the Titans by walking the walk better and whacking the whack harder, but it wasn't to be.

"They were better today," Bears defensive end Alex Brown said.

The Titans are four games better on the season than the Bears, primarily by being as basic as the best Bears teams generally are: Yes, great defense, ball control, field position, few frills, bingo!

"They play their style, and they play it well," Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. "That's what football is all about - doing what you do best. They are doing that right now at a very high level."

Defense? The Titans yielded 243 yards, the Bears 304. Time of possession? Titans 33:16, Bears' 26:44. Field position? The Titans had a territorial advantage most of the day.

The concern three weeks ago when the Bears beat the Vikings 48-41 was that they lost the franchise's identity. But it's OK to win one way one day if you're prepared to adjust to another way another day, which Tennessee did Sunday.

With the Bears focused on stopping Tennessee's hot running game, Kerry Collins began throwing the ball.

The result was 30 completions in 41 attempts, 289 yards (Collins first plus-200-yard game of the season), 2 touchdowns and a 108.7 passer rating.

Meanwhile, Fisher might have learned defense from Ryan, but the Bears might have forgotten his primary principle: Get to the quarterback.

It's tiring to hear the Bears say they can't record sacks because the quarterback is taking three-step drops and unloading the ball.

No excuses, fellas. Get there on the second step. Send more rushers than blockers. Blitz the world. Dictate the game. Do whatever it takes.

Alex Brown aborted a postgame interview by saying, "I don't want to say something I'm going to regret tomorrow."

That, too, says it all.