Two years ago, the Chicago Bears tied the NFL record for fewest takeaways in a season. They had 11, matching the mark of futility set by the 0-8-1 Baltimore Colts during the strike-shortened 1982 season.
Through nine games this season, they have 24 takeaways, second behind Cleveland (25).
From 2015 to 2017, Chicago’s interception totals were eight, eight and, yes, eight again.
They have a league-leading 16 this season. And, yes, that has Vikings coach Mike Zimmer’s attention.
“And their points off turnovers are huge,” added Zimmer, referring to the league-leading 89 points Chicago has scored off turnovers. “We’re going to have to do a great job of possessing the ball and keeping it, and making sure we do a good job with being patient in a lot of ways.”
Quarterback Kirk Cousins has accounted for 11 of the Vikings’ 13 giveaways. He’s thrown five interceptions and lost six fumbles.
Zimmer said his defenders will be ratcheting up their attempts to punch at and strip the ball carriers in practice this week. Twelve Bears defenders have at least one takeaway.
“This is something that doesn’t just happen,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said. “This is something our guys are trying to do each and every play.”
Jackson like Deion?
The fourth round of last year’s draft was especially kind to the Bears. And we’re not just talking about Tarik Cohen, the runner-receiver-returner who leads the Bears in all-purpose yards (944) and is tied for the lead in receptions (37) and touchdowns (five).
Safety Eddie Jackson was the first player Bears General Manager Ryan Pace selected in that fourth round. In Week 9, Jackson did something only one other NFL player has done since 1970.
And that one other player? Hall of Famer Deion Sanders.
Against the Bills, Jackson forced, recovered and returned a fumble 65 yards for a touchdown. It was his third defensive touchdown of 65 or more yards in a two-season span, matching Deion’s fete from more than 20 years ago.
“Eddie Jackson is a little bit more of a ballhawk,” Zimmer said. “Since they added him, I think that’s helped. He’s playing with a lot more confidence.”
Go back, Khalil
The Bears had last year’s 10th-ranked defense when they traded for Raiders two-time first-team All-Pro pass rusher Khalil Mack.
What say you, Mr. Cousins?
“I certainly would have loved for him to stay in the AFC,” Cousins said. “He’s a great player, and I want as many great players on our opposing teams to be in the AFC.”
In seven games, Mack has seven sacks, four forced fumbles, five tackles for loss, a fumble recovery and a touchdown. Asked how nice it is to have Mack, Nagy laughed and said, “It’s really nice.”
After being told he has a lot of “humble” star players, Zimmer was asked if he’d like more of them to come with a side of “nastiness.”
“We can be nasty when we want to,” Zimmer said. “I think we’re a blue-collar football team.”
Zimmer then took a good-natured swipe at Minneapolis Miracle Man Stefon Diggs.
“Some of the offensive guys are a little bit more celebrities — Diggs,” he said with a smile. “But our guys are kind of the guys we want in here. Guys who are passionate about football. They care about the team. They want to get better. They care about one another. So, to me, that’s more important. They have their own swagger, their own nastiness, I guess. They’re good competitors.”
Linebacker Anthony Barr (hamstring), tight end David Morgan (knee) and safety Andrew Sendejo (groin) did not practice Wednesday.
Diggs, who missed the last game because of a rib injury, was a full participant. Limited were guard Tom Compton (knee), guard Mike Remmers (lower back), cornerback Xavier Rhodes (foot) and receiver Adam Thielen (low back/calf).