This is a continuing part of my series of roster battles, part of the 53-man roster battle royale. I chose to break in the Tommie Harris evaluation early because of a report I read on the ESPN NFC North blog concerning Tommie Harris’ left knee.
If you haven’t read the report I recommend you do because it’s eye opening in the quotes that Jerry Angelo gives in regards to the left knee of Tommie Harris.
Jerry Angelo is notorious amongst the windy city faithful for his circle talk. Talk that really hits about a point, but doesn’t really answer the question and essentially he’ll blabber on and circle around to his original point.
Lovie Smith and the majority of the Bears’ players are very well schooled by the Bears’ media expert on how to not talk to the media while at the same time seeming like you are.
Jerry Angelo talks about it addressing the main point that I come to this conclusion on, Tommie Harris will never be the player we had hoped he would be. For one and a half seasons Tommie Harris looked like an unstoppable force at the defensive tackle position. He was set to challenge Warren Sapp as perhaps the greatest three-technique DT in the Tampa-2 defense.
Instead all of that evaporated in the latter part of the 2006 season and partially in the early part of the 2007 season. What we can now know is that Tommie Harris plays consistently on a bum knee. A knee that limits his explosiveness, his leverage and his ability to be effective as a pass rusher. His ability in turn makes the players around him better which in turn is the main engine that drives the Bears’ defense.
The main quote you take away from the article from Jerry Angelo is this
Is his knee pristine? No. it’s not.
The rest of the talk that comes afterward is pure circle talk. Don’t be alarmed, not to worry, things will be okay, it’s not as bad as it looks. The fans the media and the analysts are making a story where there is none. To much speculation is a bad thing, you get the idea.
What matters most is the Bears made Tommie Harris the richest defensive lineman in league history barely a year ago and now it appears they will not get their money’s worth out of the deal.
Tommie Harris will never be the player that we had hoped he would be a player that likely could have been defensive player of the league the last two seasons were it not for his knee.
What we do know is that Harris does not practice at 100% capacity nor does he participate 100% of the time. Instead he is limited during the seasons, and now he rarely participates in the regular season.
Could we expect production out of Tommie Harris? Yes perhaps there is still a good level of production that Harris can achieve. But the once dominant force that Harris appeared to on the verge of becoming, is now burning off into the distant memory, the land where Good Rex Grossman still lives on.
The hope here is that Marcus Harrison, or Jarron Gilbert will pick up and be a three technique that is comparable to what Harris was at one time. Perhaps in the infinite potential of these two players the Bears have one, or two that could equal the production that a one Tommie Harris might have brought had the knee not faltered.
Surely we can pass judgment on Jerry Angelo’s failure to recognize this before signing Harris to this long term contract. However money is not the issue here, it’s the production that we will not see. The dominance is gone, the defense that won’t achieve the level it perhaps might have with Harris may now never.
We hope that the defense can be productive and in the future dominant once again. Expecting that to happen with Tommie Harris playing at the level he once did may be a pipe dream.
It’s a sad realization to come to, but a realistic one nonetheless.