Dan Pompei: Time to Bring Tommie Harris Back
Time to bring Tommie Harris back
Veteran could be fourth defensive tackle in a rotation
| Tommie Harris tackles Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field in January 2011. (Brian Cassella/Tribune photo / May 8, 2012) |
Dan Pompei On the NFL 7:40 p.m. CDT, May 8, 2012
It was time when the Bears cut ties with Tommie Harris in February 2011.
Now, in May 2012, it could be time to bring Harris back.
When the Bears cut Harris, he was the starting defensive tackle, the onetime centerpiece of the defense who was scheduled to make more than $5.3 million that season.
If they bring back Harris, they think he can be a fourth defensive tackle in a rotation for what passes for chump change in an NFL locker room.
Things have changed in a year.
Last season the Bears didn't need Harris. They replaced him with rookie Stephen Paea and veteran free agent Amobi Okoye.
But Okoye since has left for the Bucs, and Anthony Adams was cut. That leaves the Bears short at the position. They have only three defensive tackles they can count on — Henry Melton, Stephen Paea and Matt Toeaina.
Things have changed for Harris too.
He signed with the Colts last August but was cut before the season. He sat out the first three weeks of the season before the Chargers signed him as a replacement for injured players.
After the season his deal expired, and he has sat waiting by the phone. The Bears have talked about making that phone ring.
Understand something. The list of available defensive tackles was underwhelming the day free agency started. Now, it is beyond underwhelming.
Harris stands out as an interior pass rusher, as long as your expectations are reasonable. At 30, Harris is not going to be a dominating pass rusher who wreaks havoc down after down. But he can be an effective spot player.
He played in 13 games last season for the Chargers as a nickel rusher. He had three sacks, which is more than either Paea or Toeaina. According to Pro Football Focus, he had 10 quarterback pressures, which was four more than Toeaina, and five more than Paea.
STATS had Harris with three knockdowns, which was two fewer than Paea and as many as Toeaina.
Paea and Toeaina figure to be the Bears' second and third tackles behind Henry Melton. The Bears need to replace the 773 snaps than Okoye (615) and Adams (158) gave them last year.
Paea, the team's second-round pick in 2011, will be expected nearly to double his snaps in his second season. So the Bears will need another tackle to take 10 to 15 a game.
Harris played 259 snaps last season. He is at the stage of his career when fewer snaps could mean more production.
The reports I received from three front-office men on Harris' play last season were pretty positive. The bigger issue with him may be his ability to sustain his production and health over the course of 16 games.
"He could be productive in stretches," one personnel director said. "But he has degenerative knees. It will be a question as to whether or not he can get through a season."
Harris' knee and hamstring problems have changed him from the player the Bears drafted with the 14th overall pick in 2004. But he still has a quick first step that enables him to defeat a blocker a few times a game. That quality is not easy to find.
A team acquiring Harris has to have a specific role in mind.
"He needs to win early in the play," the personnel director said. "He doesn't have the explosion he once did to do it play in, play out. He gets overwhelmed in the power game."
Harris would be welcome in the Bears' locker room, which he left on good terms.
Coach Lovie Smith often has spoken fondly of Harris and traveled to New Orleans with many from the organization in February to be with him for the funeral of Harris' wife, Ashley, who died in February.
Harris needed the Bears that day. And the Bears need Harris now.
Last edited by Dagan81; 05-16-2012 at 12:28 PM.
I believe this article might possibly have been posted in another thread, and if this offends anyone's sensibilities, I sincerely apologize. I just thought that posting this again would make for good discussion.
Tommie Harris meant a lot to this franchise for three seasons. From 2004-06, he made the Pro Bowl, and led the defense's resurgence as a force in the league, which, in turn, made the Bears a force to be reckoned with in the mid 2000s. Since his horrific injury in the second Vikings came in December 2006 at Soldier Field, neither Harris nor the defense have been the same. A lot of the Bears' pass rush went down the tube with the injury to Harris, who never fully recovered from having his hamstring literally ripped away from the bone, and the rush defense suffered as a result of this as well. In no year since 2006 have the Bears finished higher than 8th in the league in yards allow, or very far out of the 20s in the league in passing yards given up. We simply haven't had the pass rush from the three technique position to properly execute this game plan.
Harris proved last season that he still has the ability to be a solid player if used properly. He had nearly as many sacks (3) with the Chargers as Okoye did with almost three times the number of snaps played. Harris, again, is also good at stuff the run, and he would be an ideal spot man for this defensive line. I would dare say that our defensive line, with Peppers, "Big Mac", Idonije, Wooten, Melton, Paea, Toeaina, and Harris would be among the league's very best at all techniques when all is said and done.
I'm indifferent. If they brought him back he would be buried as our 4th DT, and while he's probably about as good as it gets for vet DT's on the market currently, he'd still just be #4. I don't think he'd be a huge asset or liability in that position. So, if they want to give him a shot I'd be fine with it. Same for Anthony Adams. Although, I'd take Harris over Adams.
"Give 100%. 110% is impossible. Only idiots recommend that." - Ron Swanson
I would take Harris over Adams based on the cost potential. I think Harris could be had for damn near the vet minimum...on second thought, so, too, could Adams. Harris at least can bull rush the passer, which Adams can't do.
Originally Posted by Papa Bear
I'd much rather go with a kid there. I'm a big fan of rotating in young, hungry guys to keep the depth chart stocked over time and vets on their toes. Outside of 3tech, DT has historically been a rotating cast spot for our system because it's really just about finding those high motor/drive guys to fill in behind our studs. I'm a Jordan Miller backer for the fourth DT spot.
High Fives / Like - 1 BEAR DOWN!, 0 Dislikes
The reasons I voted for Tommie Harris to be brought back to the Bears are two fold: 1) He is a former Bear who had a lot of success while playing here, and 2) He still has quite a bit of ability at the UT position. I think Harris is a safer bet than Miller of having success, and even though he would cost more bring back to Chicago, you at least know what you would be getting.
Originally Posted by lklrlolnlilklsox
i voted yes, everyone deserves a second chance
I think when the Bears signed McCargo and Pressley for DT they shut the door on signing Tommie Harris at least for now. Maybe there was an interest but following the sudden death of his wife earlier this year maybe there's a question mark as to whether or not Tommie's head and heart would truly be in the game right now. He's got a lot on his plate.
Sox makes a good point as well. We'd be better off seeing if we have some younger talent ready to step up and do that job. Tommie may solve an immediate problem or he may not but having him around would only take time and reps away from younger guys we may be able to build with whereas Tommie is only a one year patch.
I love Tommie Harris but now may not be the right time for him as far as the Bears needs are concerned.
I'm getting to that age where a lifetime warranty just doesn't mean as much to me anymore as an afternoon nap. Honey Badger Don't Care. Honey Badger Don't Give a Shit.
Whatever may be the case, I certainly don't consider Jordan Miller to be the long term answer for our fourth hole amongst our defensive tackles, nor do I believe either McCargo or Pressley are it, either. I think Tommie Harris has a lot to prove to himself. He needs to prove that he can get back to reality and put this horrible tragedy behind him and move forward with his life. He's still a free agent, so he apparently has some interest in playing football. What he should do is play football because of his kids - do it for them - and also to honor the memory of Ashley. Perhaps by doing that, he could reignite the flames that were once there and he can become a sold defensive tackle again.
That's just my two cents worth. They're not even enough to buy you a good cup of java at Starbucks.
they are done with adding DTs, but before I would have said yes