Friday, October 28, 2011

The Bears at the Bye, Part II- The Defense and Special Teams

Continuing from yesterday

The Defensive Line
-Henry Melton, DT: It's hard to get a good read on Henry Melton. On the one hand, he's been the pass-rushing threat I had hoped he'd be, since he's got 3 sacks in 7 games (consider that that's nearly as many as his predecessor Tommie Harris had in 09 and 10 combined). On the other hand, he hasn't made a huge impact against the run and he tends to run very hot and cold. Consistency would be nice, although the team may be less dependent on him now that Amobi Okoye has emerged

-Amobi Okoye, DT: I never understood why people thought this was a bad signing, besides the "LOL, THE BEARZ ER SIGNIN EVERYUNS BUSTS CUZ JERRY ANGELO IS A DERP LOL" crowd. Okoye had been moderately successful rushing the passer as a Texan and he had an incredibly low price tag. He's been a force on passing downs (3 sacks), and he's got 12 tackles as well. Henry's starting job may be in trouble, and Henry hasn't even played poorly. This is a good thing. Consider this: between Okoye (3), Melton (3), and Paea (1), the Bears have almost as many sacks from the DT position already this year (7) as they had all of last year (8). The consistency isn't quite there yet, but it's already better than last year.

-Matt Toeiana, DT: Matt had a nice year last year, but he's been hurt and outplayed so far by Melton and Okoye. That's not a bad thing. As a starter, Toeiana was alright, but as the third guy in the rotation? Those are nice, fresh legs to have. It'll be interesting to see if he gets activated after the bye, since Paea's come on strong.

-Stephen Paea, DT: My mancrush on this kid isn't quite commensurate with his actual production so far, but it's close. His numbers in college and his work at the combine speak for themselves. In his first game he blew up the Vikings interior in order to get to McNabb for a safety, and he's been a big part of the improvement against the run the last two games, even if it doesn't show up on the stat sheet. I think he's going to take more and more of Anthony Adams' playing time, which is good thing, since Anthony's never been anything more than "solid."

-Anthony Adams, DT: I mean no disrespect to Adams. He's been a solid run stuffer for most of his time in Chicago, but he doesn't add much in terms of pass-rushing ability (never had more than 2 sacks in a season) and at this point you know he's never going to be an extraordinary player. Again, I think it's likely that you'll see Paea start to phase him out as the year goes on.

-Israel Idonije, DE: Izzy got off to a slow start, but he's played well of late and is now at 3 sacks on the year, and it seems likely he'll match last year's numbers, at least. He's not a star, but he knows how to take advantage of being the bookend to Julius Peppers.

-Julius Peppers, DE: He's still the man. What else do you need to know? The bye should help him rest his banged-up knee, and I'm sure he'll tee off on a shaky Philly offensive line.

Linebackers:

-Brian Urlacher: He's still playing like the guy from last year who suddenly found the fountain of youth. He's already racked up 41 tackles, 3 run stuffs, a fumble recovery for a TD, 3 awesome interceptions, and 4 pass deflections. I have no idea how long he can keep playing like this, but for now it's sure as hell nice to have.

-Lance Briggs: He pissed us all off with his offseason shenanigans, but he's made up for it on the field lately. He leads the team in tackles, with 55, and got his first interception during a monster game against the Bucs. As usual, he's near the top of the league with 5 run stuffs. It'd be easy to question the linebackers given the success opposing teams had earlier this season in the game, but these two haven't been the problem.

-Nick Roach: He plays the most thankless position in the entire Cover 2 scheme, and hasn't registered much on the stat sheet. He also hasn't been caught of position much, either. In short, he's Nick Roach, and he's...alright. He's not Hunter Hillenmeyer, so, that's one in the win column for him.

Cornerbacks:

-Charles Tillman: He still gets a ton of shit for stuff that isn't his fault. Calvin Johnson's TD? Not Charles' assignment. Devery Henderson? Not Charles' guy. He got victimized again by Greg Jennings, but he wasn't the guy matched up on Steve Smith. As far as the things he's been responsible for? Charles has been pretty good. He played a surprising amount of man against Roddy White and was very successful at it. He's made far more tackles (35) than a corner should have to make, thanks to the shoddy safety play, and, of course, he's forced one fumble. Like Briggs and Urlacher, he hasn't been the problem.

-Tim Jennings and Zack Bowman: These two have been part of it, that's for sure. I lump them together because they're equally useless. The Bears smartly recognized that Tillman isn't fast enough to cover speedy guys like Jennings and Steve Smith anymore. The result? A combined 17 catches for 300 yards (17.6 YPC). Guh.

-DJ Moore: Who doesn't love DJ and his seven interceptions (and two TDs) in two years? Communists, that's who.

Safeties:

-Chris Harris: He sucked. I know he was injured, and I was as shocked as anybody by his incredible drop off from last year, but he absolutely sucked. I'd still rather they have kept him over Black Todd Johnson, but there's no way to hide how bad Chris was in limited action. He struggled in run support, he was completely out of position on both Jahvid Best and Calvin Johnson's TDs in Detroit, and he got punished on Freeman's second TD pass against Tampa. He also dropped an interception opportunity right before that TD. I'll always like Chris, but he didn't belong in the lineup anymore.

-Brandon Meriweather: I have no lingering fondness for Meriweather (Black Todd Johnson). He's as clueless as a young Danieal Manning and as undisciplined as LaVar Arrington. He has no sense of where the ball is, or where it's going, and he's a dirty player. I don't care what he says about the NFL trying to "change his game." Nobody teaches you to tackle with your head, because, as Brandon has shown us, it often fails to result in a fucking tackle at all. Jesus, I can't believe I was excited about him. Him and Harris were undoubtedly the biggest problem on this defense.

-Chris Conte: Well, he's played two games and has either had his name called for good plays (incredible interception to prevent a Tampa TD) or hasn't had it called at all. I'll take it.

-Major Wright: He scares the shit out of me. He's played very well against Atlanta and Minnesota. He broke the cardinal rule and let Devery Henderson get behind him in New Orleans. He gets hurt All of the damn time. At this point he's a bigger question mark than Conte, even, but he's also far better than Brandon Meriweather.

Special Teams:

-Robbie Gould: He still hasn't missed a field goal in America. He's awesome. That hasn't changed.

-Adam Podlesh: He's certainly gotten enough work, hasn't he? He's done a good job. Nice leg. He can boot balls that Brad Maynard just couldn't do anymore.

That's it for now. I'll get to the coaching staff/rants about Mike Martz on Monday. I think the defense will be much better in the second half. Hard to see them giving up the big play so consistently from here on out. Will it be enough? I don't know.