Stability at linebacker a Bears' strength in 2010
March 8, 2011 10:00 AM |
By Brad Biggs
One of the primary themes with the Chicago Bears in 2010 was the team's health.
Linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer was the only veteran to be placed on injured reserve, a year after the Bears faced plenty of challenges at the position. Brian Urlacher and Pisa Tinoisamoa missed a combined 29 games in 2009. They were healthy last season and it made a significant difference for the defense.
Without them, weak-side linebacker Lance Briggs was the leader in 2009 when he made one tackle every 6.55 snaps. Now, tackling statistics are subjective and a lot of different factors play into these numbers. The weak side linebacker is the one that should come unblocked more than the other positions in the scheme. You can look at the 2009 snaps per tackle breakdown right here.
In his return, Urlacher once again led the defense with 146 tackles and averaged one stop every 7.01 snaps, tops among linebackers on the roster. Here is a breakdown of playing time for the linebackers (out of a total of 1,038 plays):
Brian Urlacher: 1,023 snaps, 98.6 percent
Lance Briggs: 885, 85.3 percent
Pisa Tinoisamoa: 451, 43.4 percent
Nick Roach: 123, 11.8 percent
Brian Iwuh: 91, 8.8 percent
Rod Wilson: 30, 2.9 percent
Hunter Hillenmeyer: 0, 0.0 percent
Briggs wound up averaging a tackle every 7.31 snaps, which is actually close to the figure Roach posted a year ago when he had 608 snaps. His playing time took a big hit as Tinoisamoa played in 12 games and made 10 starts. Still, Roach had a productive 2009 season and could draw some interest as an unrestricted free agent.
Urlacher and Briggs are the only two linebackers from this group under contract for 2011. So the Bears are not only going to have to sign or draft a starter for the strong side, they'll also have to fill the reserve roles. Typically, they want an experienced player behind Urlacher in the event he's injured. We'll see what direction this takes on. Obviously, there are plenty of snaps to be filled.
We've already posted playing-time breakdowns on the defensive line and wide receiver positions. Check back throughout the day as we analyze playing time at every position.