|The Bears defense is getting sick of the slide that has them looking from the outside to get in the playoffs. (US Presswire)|
Chicago Bears defensive players are trying to replace the disgust they feel over their plight with a sense of urgency heading into Sunday's game with Arizona.
Still, this didn't keep LB Lance Briggs from pondering how the team finds itself 8-6 after a 7-1 start, and currently outside of the playoffs looking in with two weeks left.
"In my worst nightmare, this is where I imagined we would be," he said Thursday. "In my very, very worst nightmare. Literally, this is my worst nightmare.
"We still have a chance, though, to get in the playoffs. So, it can't get any worse than this, I hope, because I haven't had any of those kind of dreams."
DT Henry Melton calls it deja vu, referring to last year's collapse after a 7-3 start.
"It's kind of like two years in a row where we go on a little slide and you're, like, looking up at the scoreboard and wondering how did we get back in this position again," he said. "It's kind of how the game works in the NFL.
|The home of the Super Bowl|
"There's a lot of great teams. Sometimes the ball bounces one way and sometimes you get the break. But the past few games we haven't been getting that so we really have just got to win these last two."
Last year's situation was different because QB Jay Cutler and RB Matt Forte were injured. This year it's been injuries to both starting guards, a tackle, wide receivers Alshon Jeffery, Devin Hester, and Earl Bennett, and injuries to LB Brian Urlacher, Melton, and CB Tim Jennings.
Virtually all of the blame for the slide falls on the shoulders of the offense. The defense has maintained its overall standing (fifth total, 319.6 yards per game), is as good against the pass as it's been all year (6th, 210.6) and is third in scoring average (17.1 ppg). Green Bay got one of its three TDs largely due to a Bears turnover last week, and the previous week Minnesota had two of its three scores mainly due to Bear turnovers.
The only problem areas have been stopping te run, where they've dropped from first after their 7-1 start to 12th (109 yards per game). And their turnovers forced has dried up to a large extent.
The Bears had forced 28 turnovers while going 7-1. They've forced just eight in losing five of their last six. Some of this has to do with a lack of pressure on quarterbacks as the pass rush has faded somewhat from top five in sacks per pass attempted to 11th. But much also has to do with the injuries to Jennings, Melton, and Urlacher.
So with Jennings and Melton practicing Wednesday and Thursday, there are hopes by the defense it can return to dominant form.
"They're two of our play makers, game-changing players, so to have those guys on the field is important," Briggs said. "Tim leads the league in interceptions (8). That right there is a big-time player. And Henry Melton is up there in sacks (6), as well. Those two guys will make a difference this week."
Follow Bears reporter Gene Chamberlain on Twitter @CBSBears.