Bears position outlook: all but the qb

Discussion in 'Chicago Bears' started by riczaj01, Jan 21, 2014.

  1. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    Bears position outlook: Defensive tackle
    January, 27, 2014
    Jan 27
    8:00
    AM ET
    By Jeff Dickerson | ESPNChicago.com

    2014 free agents: Landon Cohen, Nate Collins, Henry Melton, Jeremiah Ratliff and Corey Wootton (DT/DE).

    2014 NFL Draft
    [​IMG]Rd. 1: May 8
    Rd. 2-3: May 9
    Rd. 4-7: May 10
    Radio City Music Hall
    New York City
    Draft order | Draft home

    The good: Wootton proved flexible enough to move inside after Melton and Collins were lost for the season due to knee injuries. Although Wootton was bothered by a hip issue that eventually required offseason surgery to correct, the versatile free-agent defensive linemen managed to record 31 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 12 quarterback pressures. Bears general manager Phil Emery was non-committal about Wootton’s future with the club at the end of the regular season, but did remark that, “I’m sure that we’ll continue to talk to him.” Wootton is expected to need several months to rehabilitate his surgically repaired hip before he receives the necessary medical clearance to resume football-related activities without restrictions. Ratliff, a nine-year NFL veteran who the Bears added to the roster later in the year, did a serviceable job in the final five games and is another candidate to return.

    The bad: How much time do you have? Decimated by injuries (Melton, Collins and Stephen Paea) and the surprise retirement of Sedrick Ellis on the eve of training camp, the Bears were exposed up the middle in the run game and failed to generate an acceptable pass rush. Six opponents rushed for at least 198 yards versus the Bears. Some of those running lanes between the tackles against the Bears defense can best be described as monstrous. Remove Wootton from the equation and the entire defensive tackle group combined for only 4.0 sacks over the entire season. Melton played in just three games despite pocketing $8,454,725 as the club’s franchise-tag player. Not surprisingly, the team recently parted company with defensive line coach Mike Phair.

    The money (2014 salary-cap numbers): Thankfully, the Bears have next to nothing allocated to the position. With almost the entire group currently scheduled to be off the books, the highest projected cap figure belongs to Paea -- $1,172,787. Although the Bears tied up a good portion of their 2014 salary-cap space with extensions for quarterback Jay Cutler, cornerback Tim Jennings, left guard Matt Slauson and kicker Robbie Gould, there are options available to open up more space to potentially add a proven defensive tackle in free agency if necessary.

    Draft priority: Urgent. The Bears must begin the task of rebuilding the defensive line. Emery promised a younger defense in 2014. The only way to accomplish that is by finding high-impact defensive players in the draft who can contribute immediately. Selecting a defensive tackle in the early rounds appears likely.
  2. JustAnotherBearsFan99

    JustAnotherBearsFan99 Coordinator SuperFan DBS Writer

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    Ric, here's the DE review:

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  3. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    Bears position outlook: Linebackers
    January, 29, 2014
    Jan 29
    8:00
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    By Jeff Dickerson | ESPNChicago.com
    Free agents: James Anderson, Blake Costanzo and D.J. Williams.

    The good: Before suffering a minor shoulder fracture that forced him to miss seven games, veteran weakside linebacker Lance Briggs was in the midst of another Pro Bowl-caliber season. Despite sitting out almost the entire preseason due to a calf strain, Williams appeared to be stabilizing the position until he went on injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle on Oct. 18. Anderson led the Bears with 129.5 tackles. Rookie second-round pick Jon Bostic, forced into the starting lineup because of all the injuries, had a solid game versus the Baltimore Ravens in November with eight tackles and one key interception. He could be an outside linebacker in 2014. Costanzo topped the Bears with 17 special-teams tackles.

    The bad: Obviously, the injuries to Williams and Briggs really hurt, especially after the Bears decided to let veteran linebackers Brian Urlacher and Nick Roach leave the previous offseason. Bostic and fellow rookie Khaseem Greene predictably struggled on occasion when pressed into action as first-year players. The Bears' linebackers were often in the wrong place and out of their gaps, which played a role in the team having the worst run defense in the NFL. Even when Briggs returned late in the season, he was never the same.

    The money (2014 salary-cap numbers): Briggs has one year left on his current contract and is scheduled to count $6.5 million against the cap. The Bears really need a big year out of Briggs, so hopefully whatever unhappiness still lingers from the firing of Lovie Smith can be put aside for the greater good of the team. The last thing the Bears need is for Briggs’ contract to become a distraction in the offseason since the club has so many other holes to fill on defense. Bostic and Greene are locked in for the foreseeable future with cap hits below $1 million next year. Williams appears to be a prime candidate to return at another veteran minimum/incentive laden deal.

    Draft priority: Moderate. Even with the selections of Bostic and Greene last year and the possible addition of Shea McClellin to the room in 2014, the Bears shouldn’t pass up a talented linebacker in the mid-to-late rounds if one remains on the board. There is a chance Costanzo leaves in free agency, meaning the Bears could have a large hole on their coverage teams. Bottom line: There is always value in selecting a good linebacker, especially given the ages/contractual statuses of Briggs, Williams and Anderson
  4. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    I agree w/the assesment of DT/DE, although that could all change w/FA, but if everyone is correct and DB's are cheaper then DL, then it seems that DL will be draft centered and FA will be DB centered.

    I don't agree w/LB though, right now the team has NO middle LB on the roster, how is that not an urgent need? This is actually a larger need right now then DL/DE b/c there is no real depth at MLB in this draft, they wiffed last year when they reached for long over Ogletree hoping Bostic was the answer, while Long worked out, Bostic was a whiff and now the MLB position is a greater need then last year(again that could all change come FA though).
  5. mdbearz

    mdbearz Veteran

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    There are so many holes it is not even funny
    Both Safeties
    the only DT we have coming back is Paea
    NO MLBs
    The DEs last year were terrible

    How do we possibly field a competent Defense?

    Lets say for example we land a starting DE (1st) and a CB(2nd), plus a depth guy at DT(3rd) that still means that we need a MLB (DJ Williams), two Safeties (we might be looking at Conte again!!), and a starting
    DT/NT (if we stay with 4-3 we need a 3 tech, if we go 3-4 then we need a NT).

    This is a daunting task and I'm glad it is not me responsible for figuring it out.
  6. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    FA is going to be a bigger player then anyone realises, and the team really hampered themselves w/a 20mil cap for their qb.
  7. JustAnotherBearsFan99

    JustAnotherBearsFan99 Coordinator SuperFan DBS Writer

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    I definitely agree that we're forced to look to FA's. But we don't have the money to shop for upper-tier FA's which are usually overpriced anyway. I'll bet Emery gets some "value" mid-tier players in FA, but nothing special......and even that can quickly eat up what money we'll have available. Then you have the FA lower-tier guys who fill out the roster & training camp fodder. These are what Emery will cull out of the dumpster diving. I'm not saying we shouldn't do it, but I'm not holding my breath that we'll get any studs in FA. The draft is our future, and we really need for Emery to have a low failure-rate there. I'm not expecting day-1 starters in the draft, other than maybe the 1st round and hopefully the 2nd round. But at least get "projects" who can be starters at some point......and solid backups are okay for the very late rounds. Any complete whiff's will slow down the rebuilding effort on defense.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2014
  8. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    Bears position outlook: Cornerback
    January, 30, 2014
    Jan 30
    8:00
    AM ET
    By Jeff Dickerson | ESPNChicago.com

    Free agents: Charles Tillman, Zack Bowman, Sherrick McManis and Kelvin Hayden.

    The good: Tim Jennings earned a return trip to the Pro Bowl and a new four-year, $22.4 million contract after he led the defense with four interceptions and 12 pass breakups. Before he suffered a season-ending triceps injury, Tillman had three picks and three forced fumbles. Bowman, who replaced Tillman in the starting lineup for the final seven weeks, had two interceptions and a pick-six in a pivotal win over the Cleveland Browns. Second-year nickel back Isaiah Frey made 62 tackles despite playing some of the year with a broken hand. The Bears' pass defense was by far the strength of the unit in 2013. McManis was second on the team with 15 special teams tackles.

    The bad: Losing a player of Tillman’s caliber would hurt any team. Bowman did an admirable job stepping in for the two-time Pro Bowler, but Tillman is a turnover machine. His playmaking ability was missed. Hayden, who began training camp as the starting nickel back, went on injured reserve during the preseason.

    The money (2014 salary cap figures): Jennings is scheduled to count $7.5 million against the cap next year, per the terms of his new deal. Frey, a 2012 sixth-round draft choice, will eat up only $495,000 worth of space in 2014. It’s unclear what the Bears plan to offer Tillman in free agency, but it will likely be far less than the $8,001,575 he made last season.

    Draft priority: The Bears do have a couple of young cornerbacks on their offseason roster (C.J. Wilson and Demontre Hurst), but with Tillman, Bowman, McManis and Hayden all in-line to test the market, general manager Phil Emery would be justified in selecting a cornerback in the draft. Bowman is another versatile veteran who can be re-signed for close to the league minimum.


    This is an essential right up there w/DL/DE/LB and S.
  9. JustAnotherBearsFan99

    JustAnotherBearsFan99 Coordinator SuperFan DBS Writer

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    Regarding the DT Nix (in case we would need a NT for a 3-4 defense), I do worry about the torn meniscus injury. I did some reading on this type of injury and it's worrisome to pick a player who has had this type of surgery. It actually has a poorer outcome than ACL surgery. Here's a good LINK on it.

    "When it comes to a career in the National Football League, athletes who undergo surgical trimming of a torn meniscus should be more concerned than those who undergo ACL reconstruction .

    A recent study presented at the 2009 American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine Annual Meeting found that the career of NFL players was likely to be shortened if they undergo meniscus surgery. In contrast, athletes who underwent ACL reconstruction were found to have longer careers and play in more games."
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  10. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    It's why I worry about Nix at 14.
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  11. JustAnotherBearsFan99

    JustAnotherBearsFan99 Coordinator SuperFan DBS Writer

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    +1

    If you read about the torn meniscus, it results in a situation where it never really is the same again. There can be chronic pain, and excessive wear going forward after the surgery. When you consider that Nix is a massive 340+ pound man, exerting incredible explosive force on that knee - every play - then it just seems like it's a bit of a gamble to draft the guy. We've had some bad experiences drafting injured players, and this one just seems like a red flag to me. Yea, I agree. Why risk a 1st round pick here?
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