Bears LB Situation; Dilemma or Delight?...........

Discussion in 'Front Page News' started by soulman, Jun 26, 2014.

  1. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    One area of our defense that was a disaster last year still remains in an unsettled state even as we head toward training camp just three weeks or so away. The depth charts haven't been published yet but anyone whose followed that OTAs and mini-camp knows who the lead dogs are at most of the defensive positions except for LB.

    We know that Allen, Paea, Ratliff, and Houston will be the front line front four, Tillman and Jennings will be the starters and CB with Fuller sliding in at LCB in the nickel while Jennings moves to the slot, and we know that Mundy is the starting FS. Vereen has been playing FS with the ones so far but there's an underlying current that says he's only keeping it warm until Conte returns and that Conte will be given first chance to keep his spot in the preseason. What we still don't know though is who the starting LBs will be other than Briggs.

    Even the coaches don't all seem to agree on it and the media simply adds more confusion. Trestman has been quoted as saying that D.J. Williams is the "lead dog" at MLB yet LB coach Reggie Herring has been awfully complimentary of Jon Bostic and his speed and coverage skills calling him possibly the best coverage LB on the team. Bostic has also seen a fair amount of time playing MLB with the ones so far in OTAs and mini-camp. So the situation seems far from settled just yet and since both can also play SLB one over riding the other at MLB still doesn't mean the other will sit.

    At SLB we've been hearing all along that position belongs to McClellin first but that he'd have competition from Bostic and possibly Greene. Now I'm not so sure. In two separate articles by Bears media writers one had the depth chart going into camp with DWill at MLB and Bostic at SLB. The other still had McClellin at SLB with Bostic being used as a nickel LB in place of DWill. The other question is where does Briggs come into play in the nickel? He's always been a three down player but with Bostic and McClellin in the picture will that change?

    Behind all of this are three guys who aren't mentioned as much but still are expected to compete for roster spots. Jordan Senn who has starting experience will almost certainly stick as a major STeams guy. He replaces Blake Costanzo in that role. The sixth spot looks like it's gonna be a tossup between Khaseem Greene and Christian Jones and from the comments that have been made about Jones so far he's gonna make it very tough on Greene who IMHO is already trying to escape the dog house he put himself in last year. It wasn't pretty.

    So there are still quite a few questions that need answers as it relates to this unit but if there is a dilemma to me it's a very good one. Injuries notwithstanding we may well have four starting LBs and a potential rotation as we use more sub packages for coverage and blitzes. If I had to take a stab at it now I'd say they're either gonna play Bostic at SLB and use McClellin as a rover LB and rusher or they'll play McClellin as an every down SLB, because Emery wants him on the field as much as possible, but use Bostic as a utility LB to spot him and then play MLB in the nickel. I think either way both will see a lot of snaps.

    I'm hoping the delight part comes in the body of Christian Jones who looks to me like he could be the best UDFA pick we've made yet. This kid was once projected as a first round pick. He's raw as ground beef but if he can cut his teeth on STeams under Joe D (who loves the kid) while Herring teaches him how the LB position is played in the NFL by next year we may have another starter to replace DWill or even Briggs if he doesn't return. Senn is a solid if unspectacular backup who can start if needed so that leaves Greene bringing up the back of the pack and he'll need to show better this year than last in order to give them a reason to keep a seventh LB. If you're looking for a guy on the bubble already he's my nominee.

    Altogether on paper it looks like a much improved situation but success still seems to depend on both Briggs and DWill staying healthy this year. Bostic and McClellin need that vet support while they grow into their jobs as starters. I like what I see but I'll feel more comfortable once the pecking order has been established and the schemes become more obvious. I think we're gonna see some major differences in the play of our LBs compared to they way things used to work.
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  2. Ski-Whiz

    Ski-Whiz George Halas Staff Member

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    Briggs is getting older, and we've been lucky to have him. We do need to solidify more key positions on defense. Our key players are getting older.

    Time will tell us more. I hate to say that this year will tell us alot, about a lot of things.

    ~ Is Trestman for real? Can he continue his offensive masterpiece from last year?
    ~ Is Mel Tucker legit, or just a filler? It's easy to blame injuries, but a good coach can still over come them without losing the farm.
    ~ Is ourO line a force to be reckoned with?

    All good stuff, and time will tell.. Less than Four weeks away!!
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  3. Bearstuff

    Bearstuff Yes, in the woods. Staff Member SuperFan

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    The idea of the LB corps being a dilemma is based on the thought that we saw the best that Bostic & Greene had last year. I don't believe that for a moment, for two reasons. First, the scheme wasn't really Tucker's and didn't really suit either players skill set. I firmly believe that Emery drafted them knowing our scheme would change from the Lovie 2. Second, we had really bad position coaches on the DL and LB.

    I just think you are going to see a different LB corps all together, and that the two rooks from last year (that everyone has already written off) will prove worthy of their draft position.
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  4. Ski-Whiz

    Ski-Whiz George Halas Staff Member

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    I really wish we could answer this question with 100% truth.

    How much of last years' defense was Mel Tucker?

    Honestly, with the caliber of players how can we not improve at just about every aspect.

    I think we are in a delight. They all should improve each others position.
  5. short faced bear

    short faced bear Assistant Head Coach DBS Writer

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    There are going to be fits and starts but eventually the LB corps will be vetted out. New D line, rooks with exp, guys like Greene and McC in better shape along with better position coaches mean things are lining up. I think patience will show us the arrow is definately pointing UP!
  6. The Benjamin

    The Benjamin George Halas Staff Member

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    Say what you will, but I am optimistic that this group will be very gold for a long time.
  7. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    This was taken from a more recent write up on the Bears preseason look at LB going into camp. Adam Jahns of the Sun-Times tends to confirm my predictions that we'll actually see a four LB rotation between, Briggs, DWill, Bostic, and McClellin.

    As I see it we have more delight than a dilemma because we have four starting caliber LBs instead of three and a more diverse set of skills at LB than we've been used to having before.

    McClellin offer pass rushing skills we haven't seen in a SLB since Rosie Colvin and between DWill and Bostic these guys can at least make up for some of the loss of Brian Urlacher as both a great pursuit LB and a great coverage LB.

    The only remaining questions is whether or not Briggs can still play at a Pro Bowl level at WLB and I'm betting he can. I think we also have some decent depth behind this group especially if the younger guys like Greene and Jones can play as well as they were expected to when signed. With Briggs and DWill nearing the end of their careers these two could walk into a good situation in another year or two if they can handle it.


    Chicago Bears: Recapping the Latest Buzz Heading into Training Camp

    By Ross Read , Featured Columnist
    Jul 10, 2014

    Don't Be Concerned with Who Starts at Linebacker
    [​IMG]
    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Anybody caught up with who the three starting linebackers will be once the season starts should probably let that go, because it really doesn't matter.

    Lance Briggs, D.J. Williams, Jon Bostic and Shea McClellin will all see significant time on the field depending on the situation.

    Adam Jahns from the Chicago Sun-Times brought up some very accurate scenarios.

    Briggs will be entrenched at his usual spot, but Bostic will see time with Williams on short-yardage and first-down scenarios. Bostic will see a lot of time in the nickel package, with Williams in the base, while McClellin will be in on blitzing and pass-rushing situations.

    This means Briggs will be the leader in snaps, but the other three will see a substantial amount of time on the field.
  8. mshu7

    mshu7 Rookie

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    I'm excited for the future of the LB spots for the Bears. I think they'll be just fine this year. I also think this will be the fair-well tour for Lance & DJ. Come 2015, I don't think either of them will be on the team. This position group will be highly discussed in 2015 as well. Just my prediction, of course.
  9. JustAnotherBearsFan99

    JustAnotherBearsFan99 Coordinator SuperFan DBS Writer

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    Also, it's looking like Emery has improved the quality of our depth players. I figure there's no getting around the fact that we will have key injuries on D every season. Hopefully, not to the extent we had last season, but we will lose multiple starters to injury this season. It's just the way it is in the NFL now with bigger/faster bodies than in "the old days" there's just greater forces of impact on the human body that no equipment advances can mitigate. Consequently, having high-quality depth is even more important than ever before.

    One other thing. Briggs didn't look so good last year even when healthy. He's definitely on his decline now. It will be interesting to see how he performs this season. Maybe his body has high-mileage and we're seeing what we saw with Urlacher in his last season. Man, that's sad to see. Urlacher made up for some (some) of the decline with a brilliant football-mind. I wonder if Briggs can do the same, but I guess he may or may not be able to make up for physical decline as well as Brian did. We'll see, I guess.

    Emery and the scouting department are the key to us winning championships because it's vital to have quality young talent flowing from the draft EVERY season. With salary cap realities, you just can't rely too heavily on bringing in FA's.......it's not just a financial thing too because NFL bodies can wear down fast and FA's may not be the best answer even if you can afford them (with notable exceptions like Allen who was a great pickup). A few solid FA's in the mix is great, but the backbone of your team needs to be fresh, young talented guys from the draft - who are cheap cap-wise in the early years.
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  10. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    Well for DWill I kinda think this is the end or at least with the Bears it is. We need the next great Bears MLB playing MLB and if we don't have him yet we need to find him.

    Briggs I'm not quite as sure about. I don't see him stepping away from the game any more gracefully than Urlacher did. Maybe it's that LB "warrior" mentality that does it with guys like that. Should be interesting to see how it plays out but you better bet Briggsy will be playing his ass off this year just to show he still has it.

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