LAKE FOREST, Ill. - Lost in the uproar over Jay Cutler's latest fiasco and the suspension of Alshon Jeffery for a banned substances policy violation, was the complete failure of the Chicago Bears' defense in Sunday's loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
For two weeks, the defense boasted about turning a corner and being back together.
In Sunday's 36-10 loss to the Tampa Buccaneers, even after Cutler's failures, the defense had a chance to keep the score within striking distance and failed by allowing 17 second-half points. That had little to do with Cutler.
"We've just got to put our back against the wall and fight every demon or legion, whatever comes against us," linebacker Pernell McPhee said.
On Sunday, there are no legions or demons unless Odell Beckham Jr. qualifies as such.
The Bears go to New Jersey hoping to find a way to shut down Beckham, quarterback Eli Manning and a New York Giants passing offense that has paved the way for four straight victories.
The Bears' defense has to quickly rediscover the formula for success it displayed against the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 31, the one that seemingly vanished in the heat at Tampa last week.
"I think our guys are playing hard, I think they're playing together," defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "I think they're playing with good purpose and intentions. Even the other day, it's hot out there, it's late in the game, and you're out there for a 19-play drive and fighting to the end right there making it as hard as we can to get them down on the goal line."
Stopping Beckham will fall to cornerback Tracy Porter, who continues to battle through knee problems.
"It's just another challenge," Porter said. "He's obviously a good player that everyone pays attention to that can do some things with the ball in his hands.
"It's going to be another challenge for us in the secondary this week."
It's not quite so simple, although Porter has had success against other receivers like Green Bay's Jordy Nelson, Tampa Bay's Mike Evans and Jacksonville's Allen Robinson.
Beckham has all six of his touchdown catches in the last five games.
Most receivers fall into the category of their bark is worse than their bite. In Beckham's case, both are pretty bad. His trash talking is legendary.
"I'm not one to fall into those types of things," Porter said. "I don't know what his deal is or why he likes it. That's just a part of his game.
"Me, we're sitting at 2-7 right now. There's no point in me to get overly hyped about what antics he's going to bring to the game. I just have to cover him, do my job and then do whatever I can to come out with a victory."
Porter doesn't need to be overly dramatic. His team leader on defense, McPhee, already is. He sounded off about sacking Manning, much like he did last year when he guaranteed the defense would get to Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay.
"We gonna tear their --- up," McPhee said about the Giants. "I don't care what everybody else did.
"We gonna sack him. He can throw the ball as many times as he wants. We gonna sack him. I'm gonna make sure of that."
Considering Manning rarely gets hit, it's bold talk. Manning has been sacked 11 times this season.
Coming from a defense that just gave up 17 second-half points to Tampa, it's very bold.
"I think his instincts and quarterback instincts are pretty high," Fangio said. "And then you factor in his throwing ability and his accuracy, he really makes some nice throws at times -- putting balls right on the money.
"And he's a tough guy, too. He'll hang in there."
McPhee went beyond such threats and suggested the defense has lofty goals.
"We've been looking to finish in the top five," he said.
Their first road victory of the season would be more realistic -- if not more valuable -- at this point.
Or would it?
It has been suggested in Chicago that the Bears would be better off losing their remaining games and challenging the Cleveland Browns for the No. 1 draft pick.
"Well, that's why they're not in this locker room," Porter said. "That's why they're on the outside looking in.
"That's something that we're not going to do. We're not just going to fold over a season."