With their league rankings at season lows in total yards, passing yards and points allowed, plus sack percentage, Bears defensive players started pointing fingers Thursday.
But they were pointing at themselves.
"We're not doing our job," defensive end Alex Brown said when asked about the lack of a pass rush. "As a defensive line, we're required to get pressure. Not just sacks. You can get pressure and cause a turnover or something. You could hit the quarterback, and he could throw an interception, and I would much rather have a turnover than a sack."
The Bears are tied for second in the NFL with 21 takeaways, and they have 15 in the last seven games, but 5 of those came in one game against the Vikings. Sacks have almost completely disappeared from the Bears' stat sheet, with just 5 in the last five games. Getting to the quarterback with just the four linemen is a critical component of the Cover-2 defense the Bears frequently employ in passing situations.
"We need pressure on the quarterback," Brown said. "That's what we're paid to do, and that's what the defense requires us to do. We have to get to the quarterback. We have to at least get him off rhythm, and we haven't been doing that as of late, so hopefully that'll change. We're just not doing our job right now, and we better change it."
They should have plenty of opportunities against the Rams, who rely heavily on the pass. But St. Louis is 27th at avoiding sacks and has allowed at least 4 sacks in half of its games.
"It starts up front," Brown said. "It always has, and in this defense it probably always will. If we don't do our jobs, it just makes it a lot tougher for the (line)backers and the secondary."
But, as linebacker Lance Briggs points out, there is more than just one position to blame when you're coming off a 37-3 defeat. Defensive coordinator Bob Babich has been criticized because he's working with essentially the same players who dominated under former defensive coordinator Ron Rivera in 2005 and 2006 but not getting the same results.
Briggs says that's not the problem.
"Our problems are not from our coaching, it's not from the technique, it's not from the (scheme)," he said. "It's within ourselves, and that's something that we have to solve within our own selves.
"It's the same defense. Those same guys that were there (in '05 and '06) are here now; we're just not getting it done."
Briggs is one of several defensive players who have been rewarded with long-term contracts, most of which included many millions of dollars up front in guaranteed money. But Briggs is one of very few players performing up to their contracts. He was asked if complacency could be a factor in the demise of the once-dominant defense.
"Basically you're saying that you get some money so you don't play as hard as you did before you got the contract?" Briggs said. "I've heard it happens. I can only speak for myself. I've always played the game the same way. There have been no changes, there's never going to be a change.
"I've played with the guys here for a long time, and there's no way you can convince me that these guys are playing (as if they're) satisfied. Until I've lived it with my own eyes, there's no way that I would say that. Poor execution? Poor play? Yes. But satisfied? Not this group."
As far as defensive performance on the field, there isn't much to be satisfied with.