Bears defense learning how to finish fast

For Bears linebacker Nick Morrow, halftime isn’t just a chance to catch his breath and refuel. It’s a chance to get better. So whether it’s coach Matt Eberflus or defensive coordinator Alan Williams doing the talking, he’s listening. Just three games into the season, he believes they make a difference.

“It’s really cool,” Morrow said. “You sit in the halftime meetings — no matter if we’re up or gave up a lot of points or whatever –and they’re always like, ‘Hey, look, we’ve got to do this and this. We’re going to adjust to this. They’re doing this — let’s use this as an adjustment.’

“And they’ve worked together before, so you can see where they’re on the same page with that. They’re really good at finding those adjustments and helping us execute it. And maybe it’s something we haven’t done a lot, so it’s like, ‘Hey, we did this back in training camp or whatever.’ It’s the coolest thing, seeing them adjust on the fly.”

The players can already see that it makes a difference. This defense is still defining itself after allowing 10 points to the 49ers, 27 to the Packers and 20 to the Texans, but one common thread is encouraging — they’ve been better in the second half than the first.

The Bears, in fact, have allowed 45 points in the first half this season, but just 12 points after halftime. They’re one of three teams (along with the Bengals and Broncos) to not allow a second-half touchdown so far.

“We make adjustments … series by series. But halftime for us is very organized,” Eberflus said. “We have a lot of information given the players from up top –and [what] we do, I’m not gonna disclose all that. But I think it’s very good and the players know exactly what’s going to come in the second half, in terms of what we’re gonna call and how we’re gonna attack an offense.”

To the players, they’re reaping the rewards of an offseason and preseason of hard work. “The emphasis is on finishing no matter what drill we’re in,” said Morrow, who played his first five seasons in the NFL with the Raiders, “[individual drills], team periods, special teams, weight room — everything’s about finishing. I think that shows up for sure.”

Defensive tackle Justin Jones, like Morrow a newcomer to Eberflus’ defense, bought in to Ebrerflus’ ‘bring your track shoes’ work ethic when he signed with the Bears. But he has a much greater appreciation for it now that he’s seen it in action.

“The thing I’ve noticed here is that our practice is most much harder than the game,” Jones said. “I feel like in a game, I just don’t get tired.

“I didn’t really see it at first. Initially, I’m like ‘Oh, we’re gonna be running, running, running, running, running.’ And I was like, ‘All right, I get it.’ But I see it now. I see that it’s good that we did that. And it’s good that they stayed on it and didn’t lower the standard [just] because people didn’t understand.

“We’re getting it. And we got it. And that’s why guys are conditioned. A lot of teams aren’t conditioned like that. So when it comes to the fourth quarter, we’re good.”

The Bears’ resilience will be tested Sunday against the Giants at MetLife Stadium. The Giants (2-1) have been a second-half team on offense this season –scoring 47 of their 56 points after halftime.

The battle lines are drawn, but the Bears feel they have a lot going for them at halftime –preparation and an ability to be better.

“It’s fun,” Morrow said. “It gives you confidence, because you know that no matter what happens out there, if [the coaches] don’t have an answer, they can work together to find one. So you’re not out there on your own, wondering what’s going on. It’s always complementary between their communication with each other and the communication with us –and that helps us play fast.”

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