I’ll be running a live chat on the official blog site Midway Illustrated tonight starting at 6:45. If you’re interested please come check out. We had an inaugural weekly chat last week with the Bears and Bills game and it went quite well. Feel free to click on the link below to sign up and join the fun.
Well it’s time to look at the Bears versus Bills game a little bit differently than a lot of people do. Sorta like the coaches do, but I’m no where near the level of an NFL coach. We’re going to go back and look at the tape and diagnose positive things from this game and negative things from this game. Sizing up how things went and what needs to be improved upon.
I’m going to try and go over each position and point out things that I like and things that I don’t like. I think I’ll have a much better feel for the game after I re-watch it and learn more from watching it the second time around. There’s nothing like modern technology to help make you a smarter football fan.
Anyway as we all know the Bears started their opening drive from the 40-yard line after the kickoff went out of bounds. I’m going to break down the first series and each series there after on defense as well. I’m going to try and dive into the intricacies of how each series went. What went well what didn’t go so well.
By no means am I an expert, I simply have a big mouth and a big opinion and a strong desire to watch and learn and become a better and smarter football fan. I’m going to do my best to be fair and balanced in my approach to the film session, and we’ll see what happens. By no means is this the end all be all, but I hope to generate more discussion and even more insightful debate among Bears fans. Hopefully like me everyone will be a little more football savvy after going through this.
The first series with a starting line up of QB Cutler, RB Jones, TE Clark, TE Davis, WR Bennett, WR Hester, OT Pace, LG Omiyale, Center Kreutz, RG Garza, RT Williams.
The Bears’ first offensive play is a three wide set with Desmond Clark lined up in the slot, but it’s twin TE formation out of the single back so it has the flexibility of run or pass. I love the flexibility of the twin TE set because if both TEs can block and catch really well, it gives you a lot of options and causes a lot of mismatches. Especially since most FBs now a days can’t run the ball very well so they’re just a blocker anyway and usually aren’t as good of a receiver as your TE. There’s a lot more versatility with this set so it’s a good offensive set for the Bears to run. I know I’m blabbering on and perhaps oversimplifying the two TE set, but I am doing this because I don’t think Ron Turner gets enough credit as an OC. This little two TE set is one example where Turner has a distinct advantage in personnel IMO.
First Offensive Series
So we see Cutler take a five step drop and rifle a pass to Devin Hester on a little button hook pattern. Cutler didn’t make any reads on the pattern he just set and fired. The play seemed to take a while to develop so it only went for a gain of two yards. The blitz came from the safety spot and Kevin Jones picked it up nicely and the protection was good.
Second play is a two back formation off-set I with McKie in the backfield, it’s a nice call a screen to Kevin Jones that goes for a gain of seven. If it’s the regular season I’d say it’s a little early in your game plan to be calling a screen, but it was effective in it’s execution. Good call by Turner here.
Third play three wide set pass is behind Hester it really looks like there was a route communication problem on this play.
Fourth down Bears punt and Maynard booms one and pins the Bills deep inside at their own five yard line.
First Defensive Series
The Bears come out with DE Anderson, NT Adams, DT Idonije, DE Brown, WILL Briggs, MIKE Urlacher, SAM Tiniosamoa, CB Vasher, CB McBride SS Afalava, FS Payne.
Traditional 4-3 look with the LBs shifted to the weak side of the formation, CBs up in press coverage. Lynch takes a counter hand off squirts through the right side of the line for a gain of six on the play. The success of this play was the counter-motion of it, the line collapsed down and there was a big hole on the right side. Mark Anderson came down to hard rather than maintaining his gap. Tackle by Afalava on the play he came up good in run support. He was a little hesitant which was why he didn’t make the tackle quicker. Still a good overall tackle and read by Afalava.
Second down and four, Bills try to run left with a simple off-tackle play and Alex Brown gets penetration up the field and into which causes havoc. The linebackers come into clean it up barely a gain of a yard if not a loss on the play.
Third down and three is the disaster play by Vasher that every has been mad about from the get go. The key to this play is the look the Bears give on a third and relatively short. The Bills have a three WR set with Edwards working out of the shot gun. The Bears are in a Cover-1, with a blitz fake on by Afalava who takes the TE in coverage man to man. Payne back deep in center field coverage. The nickel package here with a Cover-1 is a bad defensive call. Payne should maybe get over to defend the ball better, but for that to happen he has to make the perfect read. The Bears are up in press coverage on this third and short, but with the Bills working out of the shot-gun the read should be to move some players out of press coverage. Vasher bites on an out and up and gets burned by Lee Evans. It’s a good route by Evans, poor defense by Vasher but a good call on the out and up. Vasher bites on the route that would get Buffalo the first down, which is a good percentage read for him to make. However his poor fundamentals lead to the big gain on this particular play.
The pass rush is decent, but there isn’t a lot of time for it to get going because it’s out of the shot gun and Edwards makes one read and one throw. This eliminates the time for the pass rush to work.
First down run at Alex Brown out of a hurry up offense, doesn’t give the Bears much time to substitute. Run for a gain of five but the defensive pursuit was pretty good. No huddle play again, single back three WR set by Buffalo. Second down run towards the weak side again, trying to go at Lance Briggs. Briggs slips the blockers comes in and makes one of those tackles that makes you proud he’s a Bear. He has done really well in run support his entire career and this is just another example.
Third and six the Bears go with the SAM lined up on the line and fake a blitz, Corey Graham brings the blitz, the pass rush overall is good, with Graham flushing Edwards from pocket to his right. Edwards makes a dump off to the RB and Afalava comes up and makes a solid tackle short of the first down.
Fourth down is a punt for a fair catch.
Second offensive series
Bears line up in a straight I-formation hand off up the gut through the one hole, Jones cuts back at the line through an opening and makes a solid gain out of the play. Frank Omiyale looked lost on this, he missed his block so that’s why Jones had to make the cut back. On the flip side Omiyale gets down field and does make a block rather than quitting on the play. Sure he missed his initial block but it was good hustle to see him get to the next level after missing that block.
The Bears line up with a single back two TE formation, Bills up in strong press coverage eight men in the box expecting run all the way. Bears go strong protection, with only three options on the pass patterns. Hester runs a great route a deep hook play. Excellent pass and catch between Cutler and Hester, that shows a good level of chemistry between these two.
First and ten Bills come with a blitz that is picked up the pass protection is there. Cutler tries to float one out there to Hester but he’s swallowed up in double coverage. A better read may have been a check down or something with a higher percentage of success written on it. Going to Hester one too many times, is my call here. But if you want to take a positive look at it the Bears want to give Hester as many chances to make plays as he can. The more chances he gets the more complete and better he’ll become. Better to work on this in the pre-season. If this were a real game I’d be frustrated they’re singling in on Hester so much for their throws.
The next play is the other play that has caused nightmares and PTSD not to mention media stories. The INT where Cutler goes to Hester yet again. Cutler really sits on this play to long and the pressure gets to him because of him sitting on the play too long. He makes an awkward throw as he’s stepping up in the pocket trusting his arm strength to get the ball to Hester. Hester isn’t a jump ball kind of guy and he doesn’t even try to make the play because the ball is severely under thrown in the first place. Hester could have done more to try and make some sort of play on the ball whether it was defensive or otherwise. Both players are at fault here, but the story has been Cutler shoveling the blame onto Hester. I don’t think it was shoveling the blame so much as a bit of coaching and encouragement for him to say he needs to make a play on the ball.
First down and ten for the Bills and the Bears drop into a zone and run a stunt with Anthony Adams, Idonije gets solid pressure up the middle but gets pushed down from behind. The effort to get to the QB is there on this play and it forces Edwards to throw to the only option he has, a back out of the formation. Trumaine McBride makes a nice tackle on this play. No gain, on the play. Three seconds to throw the ball is about average for a QB.
Second down Corey Graham on the blitz, nice sack for Corey Graham. The D-Line gets good movement in the pocket which causes this blitz to be successful. The back makes the wrong read trying to help with the four man front and Graham comes free. Excellent call, made successful by a solid effort from the DTs to get into the backfield. Idonije again with good pressure, Bears have everything down the field covered. It’s another check down to Marshawn Lynch who gains eight after breaking a tackle by Trumaine McBride. The Bears went with a nice zone defense got adequate pressure which made the defense work.
Third offensive series
A run to Kevin Jones to the right side. Good gap defense by Buffalo Bears manage just four yards. A break down in the blocking on the left side not sure if it was Omiyale, Pace or Kreutz, but it was ugly. Part of it was the CB up in the box shot the gap hard and made Jones stop and stutter. From there it was just garbage and a broken down run play. Third down is the next ugly play Cutler. Out of the shot gun three wide he sorta hesitates when he sets to make his throw. The hesitation lets the DB really get into position to make the play. From there it’s almost picked off, you wish Cutler would have just trusted his read the first time rather than hitched it just enough to give the DB a chance to make a break on the ball.
The fourth down play is a muffed punt that the Bears recover. Primarily because their punt coverage is so good and always so well executed. A tip of the hat to Dave Toub here once again.
Kevin Schaeffer checks in at LT in place of Orlando Pace.
First and ten and what a pass and catch between Cutler and Desmond Clark. This is why it’s great to have a two TE option because Clark can still get down the field, get open and catch the ball. What a nice catch in classic Clark fashion, just an all-around great call here. Good pass protection on the whole and Clark runs a good route and it’s just a devastating play. First down again, Cutler with a quick out to Earl Bennett, good pass protection. Bears wanna get Cutler in a rhythm so they do so by throwing the ball around. Jones with nowhere to go up the middle stopped up the run play. Olin Kreutz just got man handled on the play and with the DT sliding down into Jones’ path it stuffed what was an otherwise good running play. Kreutz just got man handled at the point of attack and it just threw off the entire run play. They took a second shot of the play from behind the Bills in back from the end zone and you can clearly see Kreutz getting washed right into the play.
Third and three from the six Bears call a time out just as Cutler was going to throw a slant that looked like it might have been caught for the touchdown. Although it was thrown slightly behind Brandon Rideau so there is no guarantee that he would have made the catch. The next play is a throw into double coverage, Cutler’s gunslinger mentality evident on this one. Trying to squeeze it into Hester where the ball couldn’t go, incomplete pass fourth down Robbie Gould chip shot field goal.
Third defensive series
Bears come with an all-out blitz and it’s a quick slant to Lee Evans, no press coverage, Urlacher just missed getting a hand into the throwing lane.
Next play I don’t get to see because the production is slow to get back to it. It’s a run play that gets snowed under after about two yards. Next play is a quick hitch to the WR for a small gain. Bears play off in coverage which is why the quick hitch works well.
First and ten on a pitch to the ‘back the Bears get good pursuit and Al Afalava just misses another tackle. He slows up the back though and the back side pursuit catches up and finishes up the play. Good pursuit to the football here.
Another short pass play with the Bears in Cover-3. A stop route right in front of the CB that goes for another first down. Bears play off, Bills dink and dunk which is the story of the game to this point.
This is the play that Urlacher makes on first down here. An off-tackle play Urlacher reads perfectly storms through the tap and makes the tackle. In classic Urlacher fashion he’s moving so fast the O-Lineman doesn’t have time to block him. Read and react, make the play great stuff from number 54.
Second and nine Anderson gets pressure off the edge, but it’s a little late getting there. Edwards makes another short quick throw that BARELY gets to the TE. The rhythm of this play was clearly thrown off by the pressure Anderson applied. He cleanly beat his man on the left side. Just a speed rush to the outside by Anderson throws off the timing of the play.
The Bills going with a lot of hurry up offense here trying to wear down the Bears, trying to exploit a mismatch. To this point it hasn’t really happened as the Bears still lead 3-0. Brown gets a little bit of a pressure, everything covered down the field, another dump off to the back. He makes a few tacklers miss and storms his way forward for a gain he never should have gotten. Good pursuit by the defense, but horrible tackling. This play should have been stopped right where the ball was caught.
The play where every fan in Chicago was screaming at the T.V. The Mark Anderson play where he collapsed down so hard on the line of scrimmage on fourth and one. Kept absolutely no contain, good naked boot leg play for Edwards. Anderson looks like a dip shit on this play. Another pass no pressure on the QB here although it’s yet another stop route by the WR. The Bears should by now do a better job of jumping this route, but by now it’s a bunch of roster slobs out there in coverage anyway. Yes the starters along the front seven are still mostly out there but the back ups are in more in the secondary at this point.
First and goal, Freddie Jackson with the run towards the four hole and he’s stuck and dropped by Afalava. What a read and a superb tackle by this kid. Completely as advertised nothing critical to say about him to this point. He’s showing why he’s moving up the depth chart in such a hurry and why he should start. Second and goal empty backfield for Buffalo, out of the shot gun. Bears in zone coverage, outstanding pass rush here, Edwards is flushed from the pocket here on second and goal right into the waiting arms of Alex Brown. A clutch pass rush here by Alex Brown who gets a solid pass rush inside, and then Idonije’s pass rush up the middle gets Edwards moving right back into Brown. The pass rush by Brown did this as well as a good rush from Idonije.
Bills run the ball on third and goal from the 14 yard line and the Bears stuff it up. Field goal attempt is good just into the second quarter. We’ll finish the second quarter later in another blog.
The reasons why I chose to start this blog came into full view after the Bears’ pre-season loss to the Buffalo Bills on Saturday. The media, and some members of the fan base have a major problem when it comes to watching football games and have a short memory when it comes to watching a game. People tend to focus on the negative and completely gloss over the positive.
So I have to come in here with my platform and add my knowledge and analyze the facts and try to make those as clear as possible for Bears fans and Chicago media types alike. You won’t often get a fair and balanced approach and the media usually likes to stir up crap when nothing exists.
Example would be the Urlacher Cutler story on the first day of camp to the now Jay Cutler putting the blame on Devin Hester for not making a play on the INT that happened in front of him. The media especially in Chicago like to make mountains out of mole hills. We have a mountain and molehill situation right now after this loss.
While the Bears didn’t play a perfect game versus the Bills, it’s important to note a few things.
1) The Bills started practice a week before the Bears did
2) This was the Bills’ second pre-season game
3) The Bears were without three of four starters in the secondary
4) Struggles in the secondary were expected even before Trent Edwards complete 10 of 10 passes, most of the dump off variety.
To hammer home some of my points with the non-believers and the negative nancys already out there, I’ll back up my points.
Trent Edwards’ 10 pass completions out of 10 attempts performance that was good for 79 yards in the game. Edwards had a completion to Lee Evans for 36 yards. Take away Nathan Vasher getting burned, and say it’s 9 out of 9 for 43 yards. Nine completions at 43 yards is an average of slightly less than five yards per completion. There is why Edwards was so accurate in his throws and why it looked like the Bears were getting blitzed via the pass the same way as last year. If Edwards had only completed nine out of nine for 43 yards I don’t think everyone would be as upset as they are now.
Another point of focus, the fourth quarter when the Bills won the game by scoring two touchdowns in the fourth quarter against the Bears’ scrub defense. Hamdan and Fitzpatrick were a combined 17 out of 24 the previous week against the Tennessee Titans. Against the Bears the pair combined for 18 out of 28 and in both games the Bills made their run in the fourth quarter.
Now would a Bears fan look at that game and that performance by the Titans and level the same amount of criticism towards the Titans? Most certainly not because the Titans have always had a consistently good defense and they get a golden ticket pass go card the old “it’s just the pre-season” excuse.
What we do know by looking through just the stats is that the Bears’ defense did very well against the Bills. Trent Edwards completed many passes of the dink and dunk variety, through a pretty good pass rush. A pass rush the Bears didn’t mount much of last year was evident in this game. The Alex Brown sack came from a great collapse the pocket rush from Israel Idonije up the middle. The move forced Edwards to step to his left right into the waiting arms of Alex Brown. The intensity level of the defensive line was also on another level. Last year the line looked lackadaisical and almost like it didn’t care. The motivation to get a rush and to be aggressive wasn’t there.
Now you can tell that there is Marinelli’s intensity there. From Anthony Adams to rookie Jarron Gilbert and Dusty Dvoracek in between, the line is ready to rock and get pressure.
Also we saw Brian Urlacher shoot a gap and make a tackle the way Urlacher used to. He was also pretty aggressive in coverage as well.
The player of the game on defense was likely Al Afalava. The rookie stepped up early and often in the game and made four tackles overall. His astute instincts and aggressive tackling style looked reminiscent of Mike Brown. All positive signs the direction the defense is heading in for 2009.
Well I’d like to say there is more that Bears fans should watch for in this game as far as the Bears being able to compete against the Bills’ strengths or weaknesses. However it’s the pre-season and there wasn’t a lot to observe last week in the Bills’ pre-season game.
The Bills looked pretty bad in the game that’s for sure. They didn’t execute well and the Titans’ starters had their way with them. Then when the Titans put their back ups into the game they started working their way down the depth chart the execution of non-NFL level talent had a lot of trouble executing. Things began to fall apart for both teams with the Titans victimizing themselves with a lot of momentum killing penalties in the fourth quarter. They also victimized themselves with a fourth quarter interception return for a touchdown.
The touchdown return off of the INT was the ONLY touchdown the Bills scored during the game. While I don’t expect the Bears’ defense to shut out and shut down the Bills’ offense, you hope that they will. Buffalo may have a slight advantage in this game since it will be their second pre-season game so they’ll have a better feeling for game rhythm and flow. Plus the Bills have been in their pre-season camp longer and practiced more than the Bears.
So what we’ll be watching for is the Bears’ execution. They should be able to execute like a well-coached football team just like the Titans were able to do with their starters in. The Bears should be able to run the ball pretty effectively. I’d like to see Kevin Jones show some of the burst and see the success he has had in camp translate over. Especially if the Bears see it fit to take it easy on Matt Forte and his hamstring.
Obviously you want to see if the front four can generate a pass rush. Most of what we want to see is fairly obvious so there should be no real surprises in this game.
Going outside the box I’d like to see how Al Afalava performs in the game at safety. If he has good instincts in the zone coverage and he understands his responsibilities in the Cover-2 better than what Danieal Manning did as a rookie and better than he seems to understand at this point. Afalava is a rookie so you don’t expect him to be perfect, but you’d like to see instincts in the game that Manning has never seemed to have.
Trumaine McBride, Corey Graham and how they’ll look in pass coverage. They will likely be the TWO back up CBs to Vasher, Tillman, Bowman etc. Hopefully they have a good game against some lackluster Bill receiver talent.
There is an argument that can be made however even though it is a pre-season game. The subtle signs that the defense was going to be bad reared it’s ugly head in week one of the pre-season against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs marched 91 yards on the Bears’ starters for a touchdown. Even after they shot themselves in the foot with 10 penalty yards the Bears’ defense was still unable to stop the Chiefs. It was the starters and the starters seemed to struggle on defense throughout the entire pre-season. Additionally it seems that a lot of the players that were backups in that game are important starters or players who’ll need to step up for the Bears in 2009.
Against the 49ers where the starters played for most of the game, the Bears made J.T. O’Sullivan look like Joe Montana guiding the 49ers offense down the field almost at will. O’Sullivan was seven out of eight for 126 yards and a touchdown in a pre-season game against the Bears’ starting defense.
So yes there is the importance of seeing the Bears’ defense perform well. Usually at this time of the season defenses are ahead of offenses so the Bears defense should be able to stop the Bills in this game fairly regularly. Especially with Terrell Owens out of the game.
So while everyone will have their eyes on Jay Cutler and his receivers the main point of focus should be the Bears’ defense and can they slow down a team. This is a team that is built on defense so the Bears should show signs of being a good team based on how their defense performs.
Doing some of the advanced scouting work that I did of the Buffalo Bills I came across some interesting aspects of the game that will be fun to watch for Bears fans.
The match up that should most intrigue Bears fans is the match up of Buffalo Bills rookie offensive guard Andy Levitre versus Bears rookie defensive tackle Jarron Gilbert. Levitre a second round draft pick struggled mightily in the game against the Titans. He was thoroughly worked over by veteran DTs that seems to over power and dominate him for most of the time he was on the field.
A rookie versus rookie match up seems to be key just for Bears fans to figure out the depth going which is the primary point of focus during the pre-season. Yes we will get a read on the first team defense but it won’t come for much more than a quarter or even a series or two for the first team players.
Gilbert matching up with Levitre will be interesting. Levitre was drafted in the second round by the Bills, who were so high on him they traded their third and fourth round selections to move up back up into the second round to land him. He’s a converted offensive tackle who was shifted inside to left guard from left tackle where he played in college. Thus far the experiment did not appear to go well for him.
Noted in some scouting reports on Levitre is he didn’t have a lot of power or strength in his upper body and had really short arms. Gilbert should be able to stand out against Levitre, given that he has performed well in camp up to this point. Gilbert hopefully will get a push against the run and be fairly explosive in his pass rush. While it won’t be key for Gilbert to dominate him, there should be the subtle signs that Gilbert can handle a rookie versus rookie match up.
This should be a match up that should last throughout most of the game since both players will benefit from lots of playing time as rookies. Getting used to the speed and the complexity of the pro game when you’re a rookie that is fighting for a starting job is completely necessary.
As expected the Bears released their official depth chart yesterday. Really there is not a real surprise on the depth chart after what we have seen this far in camp. Most all the players we figured would be where at their slots are where you thought they would be. There’s no real surprises in the depth chart at this point in camp.
The only intriguing thing is rookie safety Al Afalava who is running with the second team at strong safety. Afalava was barely around for OTAs but that hasn’t stopped him from showing up in camp and proving he may just be an NFL ready safety. Afalava will be one player to watch during the pre-season game tomorrow night against Buffalo. The rookie is once again proving that Jerry Angelo and his team of scouts know how to find very talented NFL ready players in the later rounds of the NFL draft. Afalava fits Angelo’s pedigree to a T and he has the versatility to play free or strong safety although the roles in the Bears’ defense between free and strong aren’t very different.
Elsewhere Mark Anderson’s solid training camp has led to him being listed as a starter at both of the DE positions. The major hope that Anderson would take to Rod Marinelli’s tutelage has been realized to this point. Anderson is yet another player who will be watched during the pre-season game to see what kind of pass rush he can generate. Although Anderson is unlikely to play long given his status as a starter.
At left guard Josh Beekman has thoroughly held off the challenge of free agent signee Frank Omiyale. Beekman was good enough last year and looks like he may be even better this year. Bears fans may have a lot of unfair disdain for Beekman but he just seems to be unfazed by any of it. He’s taking it in stride and competing at a high level right now.
On defense at nose tackle it’s still a three man race between Anthony Adams, Dusty Dvoracek and Marcus Harrison, with none of the three giving ground to the other. All three seem to realize that the third team loser of this battle is likely to be cut so they are performing well up to expectations.
The game against Buffalo will tell some about this team but I think the real keys to follow will be with the depth that we are counting on, and the rookies playing like they could be starters some day.
Finally Chicago Bears defensive tackle admitted to why he hasn’t been practicing much at practice during OTAs and during pre-season training camp.
Harris stated to the media today that he had exploratory surgery on his knee in March. The surgery was to go in and explore what is causing him the constant pain in his knee.
The surgery by all accounts went well, but it was there to clean up some scar tissue from a previous surgery he had.
We finally find out now that Tommie Harris is no where near 100-percent and he let it slip about his knee surgery.
The question now is will Harris be ready to go for the season opener against the Green Bay Packers? Will his knee be ready, will this be a lingering concern and precisely how much playing time will Harris see this year.
This is bombshell news that completely shows the lack of credibility the Bears’ organization has. The fact that no one disclosed Tommie Harris’ knee surgery until now and the Bears stated he was 100-percent was a bald faced lie.
Completely disheartening news to hear that Harris likely is not, and will not be one hundred percent this season and that his knee continues to be a major problem for the Bears.
Dusty Dvoracek has not been able to finish a season in his three year career with the Chicago Bears. Every year the Oklahoma Sooner alum has wound up on the disabled list with a season-ending injury. With the production of Anthony Adams and the drafting of Jarron Gilbert and the promise of Marcus Harrison, Dvoracek is at risk for being cut.
However it’s easy to overlook Dvoracek due to his injury problems, but it’s not easy to overlook his production. Dvoracek is a classic run plugger at the DT spot who also has the ability to stretch plays down the line of scrimmage. This enables the linebackers to swoop in and make a play leading to the Bears being a dominant run defensive team.
The Bears’ defense led the league in stuffed runs in 2008 and that was primarily due to the guys up front. Led by Dvoracek the Bears ranked fifth overall in the league in stuffing the run. It’s no coincidence that the Vikings, Titans, Steelers Eagles and Bears all have that run stuffing tackle in the middle of it all. All were amongst the six leaders in rushing defense in 2008.
Dvoracek is a stout plug who uses his leverage well and his hands well to be successful against the run. While Dvoracek may not be THE big mammoth DT that Bears fans wish were still around, he plays like one. Dvoracek is good at the point of attack and it is so often overlooked his value to the team when he is in the game.
The question is can he stay healthy for a full season and be a starter on the defensive line? Does he deserve to be on the roster if he can’t stay healthy? The answer in my opinion is yes he still deserves to be on the D-Line as a starter. Sure Anthony Adams has been productive, but he has always been more fresh when he comes into the game. Adams is also more of a three-technique type of DT rather than a hole filler. Adams isn’t all that big either so can he hold up for an entire season as a starter?
What about Marcus Harrison? How far into the doghouse is he with his weight problems? Is he in shape to be ready to play a full 16 game slate? How long until he is in a position where he won’t be overly winded from pounding the middle of the defense.
Never mind that Harrison is more a pass rush three-technique specialist as well, thus leaving the run defense vulnerable with him in the game.
So hopefully for the run defense’s sake the Bears can find a spot for Dust Dvoracek on the roster, and keep him. He is just the type of double team commanding run stuffer that keeps the Bears defense in a position to be dominant.
Mark Anderson had 12 sacks as a rookie during the Super Bowl run of 2006. Since then he has had two sacks over a total of two seasons. He’s been one of the greatest disappointments on the team with his hustle and pass rushing ability and his seemingly one dimensional attack at rushing the passer. Anderson has two moves, speed to the outside and a spin move he incorporates into his repertoire that really hasn’t had much success. He’s essentially been a one trick pony that was figured out after his rookie year and it’s effected his confidence level.
Enter Rod Marinelli one of the best if not the best defensive line coach in the NFL. Marinelli has lit a fire under Anderson’s butt if for no other reason than Anderson realizes his career may not be safe. Anderson has responded to Marinelli’s fire and passion and looks like he might be heading towards a solid season.
The Bears would need precisely this from Anderson as the Bears held the lead in the fourth quarter in 11 of their games in 2008. Had the defense held onto that lead in the fourth quarter it would have been 11 wins for the Bears a division crown and a home game in the playoffs in January.
This is yet another sign to exactly how close the Bears were to being dominant in 2008. The defense stuffed the run and performed well enough to put the Bears in position to win in the fourth quarter. So with Anderson pretty much being a situational rusher who comes in to bring speed off the edge on passing downs a return to form would truly benefit the win column.
Anderson has the tools and the talent he just needs the right motivation and right leadership from the right coach. Marinelli appears to be just the coach that Anderson ordered. Anderson has good size, very good if not great speed off the edge and a good motor that keeps running.
So far in camp he has shown some flashes of returning to form. Little plays here and there that say he may be able to be counted on once again. The nice thing however is that he may not have to be the only one counted on, with the help the Bears brought in via the draft. Jarron Gilbert figures to be a force in the pass rush with his burst up field that has caused problems for the offense at times in camp.
A slimmed down and more speedy Israel Idonije is another stout player who could benefit the pass rush as well. All in all the defensive line is deeper.