LINK to the article How does 2012 Bears defense stack up to the '06 squad?
When people think of the Chicago Bears' defense, they harken back to images of Dick Butkus and Doug Plank, frigid winter days and hard hits.
The Chicago Bears will once again try to make history in 2012, but the question that needs to be asked: Is this defense better than that of 2006 in which the Monsters of the Midway were the Super Bowl runner-ups? Defensive Line
The 2006 D-line was made up of Adewale Ogunleye, Tommie Harris, Tank Johnson, and Alex Brown. Those four, with the help of a number of other contributors such as Mark Anderson, were ranked in the Top 10 of every major category including defending the run.
The 2012 front four will most likely be Julius Peppers, Israel Idonije, Henry Melton and Shea McClellin. McClellin has been labeled a “high motor” guy with a good football IQ. This usually means smart, but undersized, and it will be interesting to see how the rookie acclimates himself to a 4-3 defense as opposed to the 3-4 he starred in at Boise State. Peppers will be a monster as usual, forcing teams to double-team him and run inside the tackles. When it comes to the D-Line, I call it a tossup between ‘06 and ’12.
The only reason I don’t give it to 2006 is Julius Peppers. Linebacker
The Chicago Bears are historically famous for vicious linebackers and 2012 should fit the mold quite nicely. The only difference between the 2006 and 2012 linebackers is Geno Hayes or Nick Roach in place of Hunter Hillenmyer. The Briggs-Urlacher tandem is something we tend to take for granted and we have for some time.
My main concern is the ‘06 and ‘12 backers are essentially the same, but five years older. Briggs and Urlacher are moving into the latter years of their careers and I’m not sure what makes them more impactful than 2006 other than maybe experience. Each year, we expect to see the linebacker play drop off and without fail, Urlacher and Briggs prove us wrong.
Advantage 2006. Secondary
The Bears secondary will once again be anchored by Pro Bowl corner Peanut Tillman. If you ask Peanut, he thinks the 2012 secondary is the best he has ever played with. I tend to disagree because it’s easy to forget how dominant the 2006 defensive backfield was. Tillman, Nathan Vasher, Chris Harris and Danieal Manning all had the ability to create turnovers and shut down opposing offenses. I’m not sure if Chris Conte and Major Wright have that ability. Don’t get me wrong, this group of DBs is superior to last season but they are not at the level of 2006.
I am optimistic about the 2012 Bears defense but I have serious concerns about the ability of the defensive line -- other than Julius Peppers -- to put consistent pressure on the quarterback. Also, with Brian Urlacher’s health a major question mark, I am concerned about the defense’s age and their ability to fight off the nagging injuries that happen throughout an NFL season.
So I give the clear nod to the 2006 defense over this year’s squad.