Melton, Paea turning a problem into a positiv
Melton, Paea turning a problem into a positive
By John Mullin
The season is still in some question but a casual forecast here: The Bears’ defense already is better in a key area now than it was arguably at any point last season.
The defensive schemes of Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli turn on having a disruptor as the “three-technique,” the defensive tackle role was amply filled by Tommie Harris in his Pro Bowl years but became a weakness toward the end of last season when Harris’ play arguably hurt the overall defense. It’s the tackle that is expected to beat single-team blocking or absolutely command double-teaming, neither of which Harris did at the end.
The drafting of Oregon State power tackle Stephen Paea was targeting that position. A 4-3 one-gap team does not trade up, which the Bears did, for a nose tackle. It trades up for a three-technique. Paea has the strength to play nose besides being younger, quicker and as big as Anthony Adams, but his real value is as that interior force that Harris was supposed to re-emerge as and dominate the middle as a counterpoint to Julius Peppers’ mayhem on the edge.
But the serious buzz around Halas Hall, even as no one has any contact with players, continues to be Henry Melton, who added 30 pounds of muscle and is ticketed to replace Harris. Melton was an overlooked impact player in limited duty last season, meaning this is not simply a fuzzy hope for some guy who’s never done much but you hope he will now.
That means that the Bears potentially have not one but two three-techniques, making it less and less likely that they pursue Green Bay veteran Cullen Jenkins if and when free agency ever gets here. It also means that a liability situation at a crucial position could well surface as the pleasant surprise of the 2011 season.
Some good news at a time when that’s in short supply around the NFL…
The Illinois General Assembly has passed House Bill 200, which is legislation addressing the issue of youth concussions in this state. It was co-authored by House Minority Leader Tom Cross (Oswego) and State Senator Kwame Raoul (Chicago) and unanimously passed in both chambers. It marks the first comprehensive state law seeking to address the growing concerns over concussion injuries and their prevention in youth sports.
Kudos to the Bears for taking more than just a bystander role in all this. They know too well the severity of the problem, losing linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer last preseason to a concussion, and they hosted a confab at Soldier Field to highlight the legislative work being undertaken.
“We congratulate Leader Cross and Senator Raoul for their efforts and tireless work in successfully bringing this important issue to the forefront,” said Bears President and CEO Ted Phillips. “The Bears commend the General Assembly for recognizing the steps that must be taken to further protect Illinois children and young student-athletes from preventable concussions and other brain injuries.”
House Bill 200 would make it mandatory for all school boards in the state to work with the Illinois High School Association to develop clear guidelines to educate coaches, student athletes and their parents, including:
• Requiring all school boards to adopt a policy regarding student athlete concussions and head injuries, and ensuring that policy be in compliance with the protocols, policies, and by-laws of the Illinois High School Association.
• Information on the school board's concussion and head injury policy must be a part of any agreement, contract, code, or other written instrument that a school district requires a student athlete and his or her parents or guardian to sign before participating in practice or interscholastic competition.
• The Illinois High School Association shall make available to all school districts, including elementary school districts, education materials, such as visual presentations and other written materials, which describe the nature and risk of concussions and head injuries.
House Bill 200 was supported by the Chicago Bears, Northwestern Hospital and the Illinois High School Athletic Association together with other interested groups. The bill now goes to Governor Quinn for his approval