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Lovie Smith plans to be a fan during Bears’ bye weekend

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Updated: November 14, 2012 3:08PM



Coach Lovie Smith plans to get away from it all during the bye weekend — he’s going to watch football instead of coach it.

‘‘We’re taking a little bit of time off, [but] you never get far away from football,’’ Smith said. ‘‘I’m looking forward to watching some high school games this week, some college games. Of course, there’s a full slate of NFL games. Every time you watch a game as a coach or a player, you can learn something.’’

Like what?

‘‘I can’t go into detail that much,’’ he said. ‘‘I just know that as a football fan, I’m excited about watching it ... just situations that pop up.

‘‘There will be some strange things that happen that will help me as a coach, maybe help me handle the situation a little bit better if I’m there.’’

Room for improvement

The Bears’ defense is sixth in total yards allowed, second against the run and No. 1 in points allowed. But even Smith acknowledges there is room for improvement. Though the Bears lead the NFL in takeaways (17), only four of those are fumble recoveries — 10 teams have more.

‘‘We’ve gotten off to a good start defensively. No more than that,’’ Smith said. ‘‘There are so many more things [to do]. How many caused fumbles have we taken away? Haven’t seen many of those.

‘‘Interceptions — when a ball’s thrown your way, you’re supposed to catch it. But taking the ball away ... once we get really good at yanking the ball out, you’ll see a lot more caused fumbles and recoveries.’’

Back to ‘Bears football’

After rushing for 214 yards on 33 carries (6.5 yards per carry) against the Jaguars’ 31st-ranked run defense last week, the Bears jumped from 16th to 11th in the NFL in rushing yards per game (123.6) and 14th in yards per carry (4.1) after five weeks.

Even if that number is inflated by the Jaguars game, the Bears expect to run the ball better after the bye. With Mike Tice as offensive line coach, the Bears made significant improvements in their running game after the bye — from 30th (88.6 yards per game) to 22nd (101) in 2010 and from 16th (114.7) to ninth (125.9) in 2011.

“It’s a must for us — I’m talking about the commitment of us running the ball,’’ Smith said. ‘‘We’re not always going to rush for 200 yards like we did [against the Jaguars]. But just the commitment where we’re running, making the defenses play for the run. That’s what we have to do.”



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