Monday, November 9, 2009

At Least Tommie Harris hit somebody

The Bears and in particular, the defense, had another embarrassing week in the 41-21 home defeat to the Arizona Cardinals. Bears fans really shouldn't be surprised when they look at the cast of characters that the Bears trot out on defense every week.

Here is the defense, broken down into 4 tiers.

Players that you would actually want playing for your team:

Lance Briggs, LB - Good player, has been the best player on the defense for a few years now, and a steal of a pick since the Bears drafted him in the 3rd round of the 2003 draft. But as my colleague Brian pointed out to me, Briggs must not be smart enough to play middle and call the defensive plays. It would have been the ideal time to move him inside with the Urlacher injury, but the coaching staff has opted for the Roach, Hillenmeyer combo at middle backer.

Alex Brown, DE - Seems to be the most disruptive of the defensive lineman. Only has 3.5 sacks this year, but is frequently in the backfield causing problems for the opposition.

Players that would be okay back-ups but you would never want starting:

Hunter Hillenmeyer, LB - Another Vandy grad playing for the Bears. Just a general rule of thumb, if half your players come from a college program that almost never finishes above .500, that is a bad thing.

Nick Roach LB - Granted, Roach and Hillenmeyer are back-ups that have been put into starting roles due to injury. But they are starting, and it is bad times.

Al Afalava, S

Zack Bowman, CB - another bad sign, when your defense starts 4 players drafted in the 5th round or higher (Hillenmeyer - 5th rd, Roach - undrafted, Bowman - 5th, Afalava - 6th) and that number will go up with Charles Tillman being replaced by Corey Graham - 6th rd.

Anthony Adams, DT

Danieal Manning, S - one of two players on our roster from Abilene Christian - the same school that gave the world Ove Johansson - kicker of a record 69-yard field goal, and Max Lucado - author of books.

Players that the Bears really wish they didn't pay:

Tommie Harris, DT - Almost becoming the Milton Bradley of the Bears. After the getting ejected from Sunday's game, Harris's teammates had no problems letting the media know they were upset with him. The Bears signed Harris last year to a Bradley-esque 4-year, $40 million contract that keeps him here through 2012.

Nathan Vasher, CB - a charter member of the Brian Randle "nickname that over time has become ironic" team with the "Interceptor" moniker. He picked off 13 passes in his first two seasons and has only had 3 since 2007. Signed a 5-year 28 million contract in '07.

Adawale Ogunleye, DE - His contract is up at the end of the season and there is no way the Bears re-sign him. Wally has never come close to reaching the 15 sack season he had in Miami before he was traded to Chicago. Last year he managed only 5 sacks and this year he has 4.5, but 2.5 of those came against Detroit. The Bears traded a second round pick to Tampa Bay for DE Gaines Adams, signifying the end of the Adawale Era in Chicago.

Charles Tillman, CB - I have been in Peanut's camp for the most part, but it has been tough to watch him this year. Chadwick Johnson and Fitzgerald had their way with him (you could argue he needs more safety help), and now it seems like he is going to miss a significant amount of time with the shoulder injury he sustained on Sunday. Signed a 6-year $42 mil deal in '07.

Brian Urlacher, LB - Reworked his contract in the summer of '08 that keeps him in Chicago through 2012 for about $43 big ones. Last year, Urlacher did not play well. This year, he is out for the season with a wrist injury. It is tough to say whether he will ever be back to being the leader of the defense.

Bad Players who should never see the field:

Mark Anderson, DE - One of the many players on the Bears defense that had a career year in 2005, and since then has done nothing. Had 12 sacks in his rookie year and only 2 total this year and last.

Kevin Payne, S - part of the Bears revolving door at safety and just can't cover anybody. Interesting note: there are three former Bears thriving at safety elsewhere in the NFL - Brandon McGowan for the Pats, Mike Brown for the Chiefs, and Chris Harris for the Panthers.

The point I am making is the same point that Troy Aikman made so delicately several times during Sunday's game - The Bears have bad players (especially on defense), and are bad at football. I am leaning toward blaming injuries, and GM Jerry Angelo for signing bad contracts, making bad draft picks, and assembling a bad team.

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