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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Mark Potash

Bears’ defense vows to finish strong after 504-yard debacle vs. Lions

Lions running back D’Andre Swift (32) scores on a 17-yard run in the second quarter Sunday at Ford Field. (Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

There’s not much left for the Bears’ defense to do after allowing 504 yards in a 41-10 loss Sunday to the Lions. The defense ranks 32nd (last) in the league in points allowed, 31st in yards per play, 29th in rushing yards per attempt and 32nd in passing yards per attempt.

Many defensive players almost literally will be playing for pride in the season finale Sunday against the Vikings because they are unlikely to return for 2023. Rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon and rookie safety Jaquan Brisker are locked in as foundation pieces, but nobody else who was on the field Sunday is a sure thing for next season — at least not in a primary role.

But NFL players always have something to play for. So even after the bottom seemed to drop out against the Lions, they’ll be motivated to finish strong — if for no other reason than to atone for an embarrassing performance.

‘‘We’re the Monsters of the Midway,’’ defensive end Trevis Gipson said. ‘‘Five hundred yards — that’s not what we stand by. We’re going to get back in the lab and work on what we need to work on, fix what we need to fix.

‘‘But the performance that we had [against the Lions], that wasn’t us. Far from us. We’re not gonna give up. We’re going to keep working, and next week we’re gonna try to keep it at five [yards], not 500. We’re not gonna let the past few weeks roll over.’’

Linebacker Nick Morrow doesn’t know what the future holds for him — he’s on a one-year contract — but that gives him plenty to play for.

‘‘If you’re a man who wants to finish and compete, you’ll compete; if not, you’ll lay down,’’ Morrow said. ‘‘I think everyone stepped up and competed as best they could [against the Lions]. Obviously, it didn’t go our way. But that’s football.

‘‘I think every man has to look themselves in the eye and decide how they want to finish the season. I’m not gonna change my process. I’ll come in and do the same thing — look at tape, look at ways to improve and attack [this] week. That’s all I can do.’’

Coach Matt Eberflus likes the effort but not the results. There’s just not much he can do about it at this point.

‘‘We’ve got to do a good job of being in our gaps in the run game,’’ Eberflus said after the Lions rushed for 265 yards on 39 carries (6.8-yard average) and two touchdowns Sunday. ‘‘In-game, we’ve got to do a good job of pressuring the quarterback, staying in our coverage. If it’s match coverage or zone coverage, we’ve got to do a better job there.’’

But after a season of instilling the H.I.T.S. principle and reinforcing the techniques and responsibilities of playing in this defense, shouldn’t the results be better, even considering injuries and other departures?

‘‘Obviously, when you’re a coach, you’re always looking at execution,’’ Eberflus said. ‘‘So I’ll just go back to that. We’re looking at execution, seeing if we’re putting players in the right positions and seeing if we’re executing our technique.’’

It’s not for lack of effort, he said.

‘‘I don’t see that,’’ Eberflus said. ‘‘We count loafs for every single play. . . . It’s more about guys being where they’re supposed to be.’’

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