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

| February 26th, 2014

ratliff

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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