With Smith, Quinn gone, Bears’ D could be in for tough times

By ANDREW SELIGMAN - AP Sports Writer

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — The Chicago Bears weren’t exactly striking fear in opponents even when they had three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Robert Quinn and star linebacker Roquan Smith.

After trading both in the past week, things could get even tougher.

The Bears agreed to send Smith to the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens on Monday, a day after the Dallas Cowboys shredded Chicago’s defense in a 49-29 romp.

A person with knowledge of the situation confirmed the deal. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the move had not been announced.

The trade came after Smith and the Bears were unable to strike a new deal with the contract he signed after the Bears drafted him with the No. 8 overall pick in 2018 set to expire after the season.

Smith staged a hold-in for the first few weeks of training camp in which he attended meetings and practices, but did not participate in drills. He accused new general manager Ryan Poles of negotiating in bad faith and asked to be dealt.

Smith, the NFL leader in tackles, got his wish Monday. The Bears traded their top pass rusher Wednesday when they sent Quinn to Philadelphia for a 2023 fourth-round pick.

WHAT’S WORKING

The offense. The Bears have scored 62 points over the past two games. They’re moving the pocket and calling more designed runs for quarterback Justin Fields. But the run game in general is clicking in a big way, with David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert doing their part.

“Everybody buying in,” said Herbert, who ran for 99 yards. “Our coaches buying into just the identity that we want to run the ball. I mean, the receivers, tight ends, everybody’s able to do that, so just the identity of that and everything based off the run game and Justin able to make plays with his feet and the receivers down field. So just feel like the buy-in of that mentality is helping a lot.”

The Bears were averaging a league-leading 188.4 yards rushing through Sunday after running for 240. It was their third straight game with 200 or more, the first time they’ve done that since Weeks 7-9 in 1968 behind Hall of Famer Gale Sayers.

WHAT’S NOT

The defense. Whether it was the hangover from the Quinn trade or just poor execution, the Bears gave up a season-high 442 yards and allowed the Cowboys to convert nine of 11 third downs. The Monsters of the Midway continued to struggle against the run, with Dallas rushing for 200 yards.

“We’re building upon what we’re doing good right now,” said coach Matt Eberflus, who spoke Monday before news of the trade broke. “We’re playing good pass defense. We’re taking the ball away. We’re doing a lot of good things, but where we have to improve is run defense. We’ve got to improve the run defense. We’ve got to improve situational football, third down and red zone.”

STOCK UP

QB Justin Fields. A lapse following a fumble by Montgomery that led to Dallas’ Micah Parsons returning the ball 36 yards for a touchdown aside, Fields once again took a step forward. He completed 17 of 23 passes for 151 passing yards and two touchdowns while posting a career-high 120 rating. He also ran for 60 yards and a score. In the win at New England last Monday, Fields threw for 179 yards and a touchdown and ran for 82 yards and another score.

STOCK DOWN

CB Kindle Vildor. It’s hard to point to one person, considering how poorly the defense played overall. But Vildor was beaten several times in coverage by CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup.

INJURIES

The Bears did not announce any injuries during the game.

KEY NUMBER

156 — The Bears are allowing 156 yards rushing per game, second-worst only to Houston. The Texans are giving up 186 per game.

UP NEXT

With Smith and Quinn gone, the Bears will try to contain one of the NFL’s top offenses when they host Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.


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Categories: National Sports