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Audibles From the Long Snapper: Defensive Line Evaluation, Eben Britton & Paddy Title Odds

| March 27th, 2014

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IS 2014 DL BETTER THAN 2013 ON PAPER?

Moon Mullin opens his CSN column, which dropped late Wednesday night, with a statement:

And now for a cold splash of perspective, one which I strongly suspect Bears general manager Phil Emery understands from painful experience:

Jared Allen or no Jared Allen, the Bears’ projected defensive line going into 2014 is arguably not as good as the one positioned to take the opening opponent’s snap in 2013.

I quite literally can’t disagree with this statement more. Here’s why:

  • Everyone needs to stop with the Corey Wootton/Stephen Paea stuff. Without seeing these two players as overwhelming positives there was no way for Moon to make the statement his column makes and neither Wootton nor Paea is an overwhelming anything. They were and are below average defensive linemen who’ve been overly celebrated due to a dearth of talent along the line.
  • The Bears now have three defensive ends (Houston, Young, Idonije) better than their second best defensive end a year ago.
  • 2014 Jared Allen is an upgrade over 2013 Julius Peppers.

What do the Bears still lack? An interior pass rusher. That is why I stand by my belief that Phil Emery should swallow his mysterious medicine and draft the best defensive player in college football last year, Aaron Donald.

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As Free Agency Approaches, In-House Questions at Defensive Tackle Might Be Answered First

| February 26th, 2014

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I don’t think Josh McCown is going to sign a contract to be a backup quarterback anywhere else in the league. Rumors of his drawing interest from the Jets in New Jersey make little sense as McCown would struggle mightily to throw the ball in the swirling Meadowlands winds. (These winds are actually more difficult to throw in than those of Soldier Field.)

I think Phil Emery legitimately wants Charles Tillman to return to Chicago but wants him to do so on a team-friendly 1-2 year deal. But if rumors are true and Darrelle Revis may be dealt out of Tampa in the coming weeks, Tillman would make a lot of sense as a de facto coach for the Bucs, bringing his patented punch to a second state.

I think Pat Mannelly ends up coming back for a final season in Chicago and Roberto Garza ultimately does the same. But if the Bears end up giving Taylor Boggs a shot in the middle of the offensive line and bring in Jeremy Cain on a full-time basis, I think the difference will be negligible at best.

Are these important players at important positions? Sure. But they are not the types of decisions that make or break an NFL campaign. The decisions Emery makes at defensive tackle might be. And those decisions start at home.

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Maligned Defensive Line, Coordinator Save Bears Season

| November 19th, 2013

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It would have been easy.

After being steamrolled by the Baltimore Ravens for the better part of an hour, it would have been easy for the Chicago Bears to walk back into the locker room with their heads hanging lower than 40 time. Facing a lengthy weather delay it would have been easy for players and coaches alike to say, “We’re done. Too many injuries. Backup quarterback. This is as far as we can go.”

It may not have been right. But it would have been easy.

What followed the delay was something even the most fresh-eyed of Bears optimists could not have predicted. David Bass made the kind of play that has defined the career of Julius Peppers and knotted the ballgame up at 10. Peppers used the two-hour delay to fly to St. Augustine, dip his face in Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth and return with a triumphant double-digit tackle, multi-sack performance when the Bears needed him most. Mel Tucker and Marc Trestman realized their error in sliding Corey Wootton back outside and returned him to the three-technique where he has begun to flourish in recent weeks. (Put some more bulk on this kid and he can delivery Melton-like numbers.) This defensive line, marred by injury and ineffectiveness, delivered the type of performance most of us thought them incapable of delivering.

The Pizza Hut delivery man showed up with three sausage pies from Lou Malnati’s. The Schlitz keg was pouring Guinness. Dublin Guinness. Mulligan’s Guinness. It flowed sweetest with the game on the line.

Because the game was over. I challenge any Bears fans, any self-respecting Bears fan, to show me evidence they believed the Bears could hold Flacco and the Ravens on first-and-goal as the clock on the Bears postseason hopes was slowly trickling down to a bunch of zeroes. Three opportunities to find the end zone? Against this defense? With the game on the line and Human Penalty Machine Zack Bowman on the field? How could they not score?

The game was over. Then it wasn’t. Three snaps. Three excellent pushes from the defensive front. The unit that had put the Bears back in the football game was giving them one more chance to save their season; now in overtime. McCown, Bennett and Gould took it from there.

The challenges coming should not be understated. St. Louis, Minnesota, Philadelphia – one back better than the next – will give this defense and its inability to stop the run nightmares. But for one week Bears fans should salute their maligned defensive front and their overly-maligned coordinator. For one Sunday is was not the big weapons on offense that won the Bears a football game. For one Sunday it was Peppers, Cheta, Cohen, Woot, Bass and company.

For one today the Bears reminded us of yesterday.

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