A lack of a pass rush by the defensive line in 2008 arguably contributed to three to four losses on the season for the Chicago Bears. Starting DEs Alex Brown and Adawale Ogunleye failed to muster much pressure throughout the seaosn. They were consistently shut down. Even Mark Anderson who looked like a future pass rushing demon as a rookie couldn’t get a rush going to help the team.
I myself am solidly of the opinion that the Bears DO in fact need to upgrade their pass rush. I was one livid person to be around on 3rd and longs this year. No one could be in the room with me while watching the games because I couldn’t help but try to scream motivational garbage at the TV. Somehow I thought and will still think that these players can hear me through the TV. It hasn’t stopped me since about the time I hit puberty and it won’t stop until the day I die, although if I go to heaven it likely won’t end there because let’s face it, heaven is on the Bears 50-yard line about 12 rows up. That’s where I plan to watch games from anyway once I’m dead.
So then it begs the question WHY in the hell am I writing a blog to try to convince myself and others that the Bears shouldn’t draft a DE on day one of the NFL draft? Well after my temper begins to cool down with the weather (let’s face it after January and most of February in Chicago even the most hot under the collar Bears fans chill out) I am able to think more clearly. What have I thought about? Just exactly how good O-Gun and Brown were against the run. These two DEs were some of the best in the league in run defense. No TEs could block them one on one, and Brown made plays in run support that won the Bears two maybe three games.
Which brings me to my point, draft a replacement for Mark Anderson the so-called pass rushing specialist. It can be a guy in the fourth round or later, someone who himself excels at rushing the passer and not much else. Why take this type of risk at such a position of need? Simple competition will motivate Anderson and whoever wins the battle in mini-camp and the pre-season the loser gets cut. It is possible to find late round pass rushing talent at DE on a yearly basis. Alex Brown was a fourth rounder and has been way more valuable to this franchise than his draft slot.
So then where can the Bears find a player who could use a bit of extra motivation to earn some money and some playing time, but has all the natural ability to develop into a beast? Georgia Tech’s Michael Johnson may be just the guy. Every scout up to this point has questioned Johnson’s heart, his motor, his effort, his desire and his mental aptitude. What they won’t question is his 6-7 260-pound frame, his athleticism, his speed, quickness and skills. This kid is the perfect gamble for the Bears to risk on who might fall into the later rounds of the draft.
Why would I say this? Because there is a new sherrif in town on the staff who happens to be the D-Line coach. This guy happens to be Rod Marinelli who is known for his attitude, his strut and his ability to motivate eskimos into thinking they live in the tropics. I have seen Marinelli in action first hand throughout his career. Marinelli was the D-Line coach at Arizona State when I first ran across him. He was the first coach at ASU who evoked images of legendary motivator Frank Kush. Marinelli is a fire breathing tough guy who spits bullets and pisses on your scrapes and scabs.
There will be a tangible difference in this defensive line as a whole with Marinelli in charge. Is he a miracle worker? No, but he won’t need to be with the right mix of players. The Bears still do have a strong mix of players on the D-Line. The same can’t be said for other positions.
Brad Biggs of the Sun Times and I think alike:
Tags: 2009 NFL Draft, Adewale Ogunleye, Chicago Bears, Chicago Bears Draft, Chicago Sports, collegefootball, football, Mark Anderson, Michael Johnson, Monsters of the Midway, NFL, NFL Draft, NFL Scouting Combine, Rod Marinelli, Sports