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Position-by-Position at the Bye: D-Line

| October 30th, 2014

dline

The following is part of a series of position-by-position breakdowns at the halftime point of the 2014 season.

This is a tale of two units.

At defensive tackle the Bears have a pair of excellent starters. If Jay Ratliff did not miss time with a concussion who knows how productive a campaign he could be enjoying. But his performance in the first half against the Miami Dolphins was one of the most dominant I’ve seen by a defensive tackle in years. Stephen Paea has endured (and I’m sure it’s pained him) endless criticism on this page alone over the duration of his career but this year he’s been week-in and week-out the Bears most reliable and impacting defensive lineman.

It also seems Phil Emery found two solid tackles in the draft. Both Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton, when they’ve gotten on the field, have jumped off the screen and made plays. Are they going to be every down starters in the years to come? I wouldn’t bet against it.

Evidence the defensive tackles have been the Bears most improved unit? A year ago the Bears ranked 32nd in the league against the run allowing 161.4 yards per game. This year they are ranked 13th, allowing only 110.1 per. That is a massive turnaround and it sure can’t be credited to what’s happening behind them.

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Most Important Defensive Player of 2014: Jared Allen, Pass Rusher

| September 4th, 2014

A bold statement to start.

If Jared Allen has a great year, great meaning relentless pressure week-to-week and somewhere around fifteen sacks, the Chicago Bears defense can be the NFL’s most surprising side of the ball and one of the league’s better units. That’s how important an elite edge rusher can be in the modern game.

Since Richard Dent walked away (and finally into the Hall of Fame) the Bears have never had the 4-3 pass rushing threat Allen is capable of being. Think of the names. Alonzo Spellman. Philip Daniels. Bryan Robinson. Alex Brown. Adewale Ogunleye. Israel Idonije. Good players, all of them. But nobody is confusing them with Derrick Thomas. And while the Julius Peppers signing would be deemed an overall success, his failure to ever be a consistent, dominant pass rusher manifested itself in failing to eclipse the 11.5 sack mark in any season in Chicago. Allen has only had less than 11.5 sacks once since 2007.

Sacks are not the only measure of a pass rusher. But they sure help.

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DBB Broken Record: Bears Training Camp Will Be Defined By Health Not Performance

| July 17th, 2014

x There is a chance fourth-round selection Brock Vereen will earn his way into the Bears defensive starting lineup come the end of August.

There is a chance Shea McClellin will thrive in his new role as strong-side linebacker, playing against opposing twos and threes for most of the summer.

There is a chance the new additions at defensive end – Allen, Houston, Young…etc. – will wreck havoc in Bourbonnais and throughout the preseason.

There is a chance the Marquess Wilson will solidify the third wide receiver spot and complete the best receiving corps in the sport.

There is also a chance none of it will matter. A strong chance. Because if Jay Cutler turns the wrong way on his knee during 7-on-7s or Matt Forte takes an awkward shot to the ankle or Brandon Marshall pulls up running through the seam, it will be that moment and nothing else that defines this summer for the Chicago Bears. NFL training camp has become a war of attrition, survival of the fittest, Thunderdome.

It has become a month-long breath hold for every die hard in the league.

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