Is the Monsters of the Midway defense back to its 2006 Super Bowl season form? A look at the statistics shows they’re pretty damn close. Through 5 games, the Bears are…
- 3rd in the league in rushing yards allowed
- Tied for 3rd in forced fumbles
- Tied for 4th in INTs
- 5th in points allowed
- 6th in total yards allowed
While those rankings are nice, I’m sure the Bears are more concerned about the positional grades being handed out by BearsGab based on the first quarter of the season. Here’s how each position grades out so far…
Defensive ends: B
While the Bears are just in the middle of the pack with 9 sacks as a team, those numbers don’t tell the whole defensive side of story. If holding penalties caused by opposing offensive lineman are as good as a sack, the Bears – thanks to Julius Peppers – would be higher on the list. Who can forget the mugging he incurred at the hands of those filthy Packers… Israel Idonije leads the team with 4 sacks, 3 of which were recorded Sunday vs. the Panthers. Luckily, the Bears haven’t had to depend a lot on the backups for significant playing time. But with Mark Anderson’s release, it will be interesting to see what role the former Omaha Nighthawk Charles Grant settles into. Perhaps D-tackle Henry Melton will start to see time on the outside too…
Defensive tackles: B-
The Bears stout numbers vs. the run are made all the more impressive considering Tommie Harris is now officially a part-time player. Matt Toeaina has teamed with Anthony Adams to give the team a sturdy presence up the middle. Some of the success vs the run has to do with LBs making tackles in space, but they don’t make as many of those tackles if the D-tackles aren’t occupying blockers up front. Marcus Harrison has been non-existent.
Those experts who said Brian Urlacher was past his prime at age 32 were horribly wrong. #54 has been flying around the field like he was in his heyday in the mid-2000s. He leads the team in tackles and also has a sack and INT to his credit. Briggs has been blowing up opposing ball carriers, tight ends and wideouts and is obviously benefitting from having his MLB running mate back. Pisa has stayed healthy and filled in nicely as the strong-side backer.
DJ Moore and Charles Tillman are the only guys who’ve picked off passes for the defensive secondary. Jennings has been steady after replacing Bowman against the Pack. His highlight reel recovery of a late Packers fumble was P-I-M-P. Bowman was on a short leash after back-to-back performances when he allowed Miles Austin to haul in a ton of catches in week 2 and after missing an open-field tackle early in the Pack game. But his come-from-behind forced fumble vs. Ahmad Bradshaw of the Giants showed the kid still wants to play. If ever there was an example of what the Cover 2 wants to accomplish – minimizing the big play – it’s this year. While the team has given up chunks of yards at a time – see GB game – they have NOT been bitten by big plays in the passing game. Obviously, a lot of that has to do with these guys…
Bears fans were excited about the leadership prospects Chris Harris would bring when he was traded back to the Bears from Carolina (for LB Jamar Williams). But after a shitty preseason, we feared he might have lost a few steps. Those fears have been allayed for now. While he may lack the elite physical skills of a typical FS, he’s rarely out of position, which is an important part of playing safety in the NFL. Danieal Manning has gone unnoticed in the passing game (that’s a good thing) and been tough in run support. The duo has played well enough that injured rookie savior/sensation Major Wright hasn’t been missed.
Special Teams: A
Once again, the Bears special teams are firing on all cylinders under coach Dave Toub. Devin Hester had his first return for a TD (vs. the Pack) in over 2 years and is 4th in the league in punt return average (12.8). Johnny Knox and Manning have combined for 6th in the league in average yards per kickoff return (28.7). Brad Maynard is 2nd in the league in punts inside the opponents’ 20. And Mr. Consistent, Robbie Gould, has connected on 10 of 11 field goals, including a career long of 53 yards.