Bears’ Depth a Question of Perception

The Chicago Tribune’s Dan Pompei has lost his damn mind!  He wrote about how he thought the Bears have increased their depth this offseason.  I couldn’t disagree more.

The Bears’ depth is actually one of my biggest concerns heading into the 2010 campaign.   Pompei points to certain position groups where the Bears do have some depth, like linebacker, running back and tight end.  I would agree that all of those positions do offer some solid, proven depth.  But Dan lost me in this article when he started talking about other position groups where he claims the Bears have depth, like defensive line, wide receiver and left guard of all things.  Let’s dive a little deeper.

Defensive line

Yes, the Bears play a rotation of linemen to keep everyone fresh, but aside from Julius Peppers, Tommie Harris (if healthy and motivated) and Anthony Adams, who on the Bears line has really proven they can be a consistent performer?  Maybe Izzy Idonije, who has excelled as a role player and special teamer but hasn’t been called on to play more significant time.  Mark Anderson has been MIA since his rookie season and will make Bears fans miss Alex Brown and Wale Ogunleye more than they know.  The next meaningful contribution that either Jarron Gilbert or Henry Melton make will be their first.  Marcus Harrison is usually either too fat or too sick to even practice.  Corey Wooten could be a steal in the draft, but he’s got to show me that he’s healthy before I buy in.

Safety

Pompei lists a lot of names, but aside from Chris Harris, is there anyone who has done it at this level.  All indications are that Major Wright has the tools to play on Sundays, but he hasn’t done it yet.  Between Steltz, Manning and Afalava, none of them seems to consistently know where to go in Lovie’s Cover-Who? defense.

Left Guard

This is where the train went off the tracks for me.  Raise your hand if you know who Johan Asiata is.   How about Lance Louis?  The biggest headlines he’s made in his career are for beating up a teammate in college.  Here’s what Dan says about this position:

Usually, coaches prefer to play only five offensive linemen. But if neither Johan Asiata nor Lance Louis seizes the left guard spot, it’s possible both could play.

Seriously? Left guard by committee?   I hope Jay Cutler has paid up his life insurance premiums!

And speaking of Cutty, how about these positions that Dan fails to mention altogether?

Quarterback

Isn’t it nice to head into a season without a quarterback competition?   But in reality, the competition should be for who should stay behind Cutler.  Caleb Hanie has been around for a couple of years now, but he’s never done it at this level.  The Bears went on to draft Dan LeFevour, but don’t think that a rookie is going to be able to step into Mike Martz’s system and contribute.  We’ve been talking about this since we traded for Cutler – we need a veteran backup.  Mike Martz hasn’t been shy about it, but Bears management has yet to do anything about it.  Where are Marc Bulger or Josh McCown?

Cornerback

Peanute Tillman and Zack Bowman are solid as the starters, but go ahead and name the other players at the position.  Tim Jennings is great if you’re playing in a 5’9″ and under league, but he’ll get destroyed going up against the super-sized receivers in the NFC North.  If Tillman gets hurt (and sadly he usually does), who do you have behind him?

Offensive Line

I’ve saved the scariest for last – the Oh no-line.  Olin Kreutz is coming off offseason surgery and is about 100 years old (in NFL years).  Roberto Garza has been steady and Chris Williams appears to be the real deal (if his pre-injured bad back doesn’t flare up.  Who else have you got?  Mike Tice will really earn his paycheck to get this unit up to NFL standards.  If anyone on that line gets hurt, it could be really scary.

The Bears might have some depth at a couple of positions, but it’s a total lack of proven, quality depth at a few other key positions that scares the hell out of me.   Dan is a smart football guy, so I’ll chalk this one up to sun stroke or a minor head injury.

BEAR DOWN!!!

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/football/bears/ct-spt-0615-pompei-bears-depth–20100614,0,4086021.column

Topics: Bears Depth, Dan Pompei

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  • http://www.jones.com Jones

    were u fucking high when writing this article?

    • Predatorian234

      What makes you think he was high?

      One of the main reasons why I love coming to Bear Goggles is because Boomer actually says what needs to be said. Everything he said is absolutely true. The Bears are so full of problems that I’ll be amazed if we make wild card this year.

      Hell, I’d be happy if we went 8-8 as long as Martz’s system makes the offense more interesting to watch then Ron Turners boring ass offense.

      You know when Bears fans get crazy when Chicagobears.com holds a vote on how many games the bears will win and like 60% say they’ll go better then 12-4.

      • Boomer

        Thanks Pred. Glad you like the blog. I just tell it like it is – good or bad.

    • Boomer

      What part of my post made you think I was high? If you think you have a case – bring it! I would love a lively offseason debate to spice things up. If you want to be a lemming, go read Larry Mayer on Chicagobears.com.

  • http://chicago-bears-hats.com/chicago-bears-hats-review-chicago-bears-all-black-flex-fit-hat/ SW Bears Fan

    I think we have potential depth at WR and RB + TE, but to be truthful, everything rests on the OL and I am very scared about what we have there. I think it makes sense to be high on williams and I think Kreutz can still play if the guards hold their own but regardless, in a Martz timing based system, the line is going to need to show up in a big way.

  • Megan Fox

    I think what Dan was referring is the Bears are deeper now then they were last year, and in some ways deeper then they have been in a long while. This is true, especially if last year is used as the primary reference. We lost 2 linebackers, had a depleted running back in Forte, whom had far to much load to carry by himself with the injury on top of that. There were also injuries in the secondary and a very young receiver corps matched with a new quarterback.

    The Bears have added Brian Urlacher, Pisa Tinoisiamoa, Chester Taylor, Julius Peppers, Brandon Malumaluna, Chris Harris, Major Wright and a slew of other draft choices.

    While lacking a first and second round pick we still managed to shore up some weaker fronts on the team.

    Cornerback is an area of concern, offensive line as well.

    Cornerback is a bigger scare then safety for me with the rash of injuries that Peanut and Bowman have had. I have no doubt they will excel this year, especially with help of better safety play and more importantly a better pass rush.

    Offensive line is a fear as it was clearly a weak link last year. While most believe that outside sources were and still are needed to remedy this there is potential in either Johan or Louis, it is not uncommon for decent linemen to be found in later rounds as most out of school are undersized or simply not strong enough yet. Last year during the final four games line play was better and that was largely due to moving Williams in at left tackle instantly adding more credibility to the entire side. For most fans the concept of the importance for the line to be one as a team vs individual performance is hard to understand. I am confident that Tice will get the most out of this line, even if it isnt that best in the league.

    Overall I feel confident in this team simply because I feel we will be able to adjust to situations better. Last year our threat of running was considered zero, it was easy to stop and even easier to predict. With the development of the receivers clicking with Cutler this promises to be a high speed offense.

    This team is now geared to score a lot, often, and quickly. The defense will no longer have to win games for us. Cutler will be used on a lot of roll outs, some threatening deep play while others will be diversions to get the RB’s the ball in space.

    While I am not predicting a superbowl trip just yet, I feel confident we get 12 wins and even if not I would be willing to bet my Armani contract that my Bears will be far more entertaining to watch then in recent years.

    • Boomer

      If this is the real Megan Fox, please consider my reply to this comment as a marriage proposal. (Don’t tell my wife!) If it’s not and this is at least a woman, send a picture and we can talk. J/K

      Kidding aside, great comment. This is the kind of cogent, thoughtful response that will make me re-visit my arguments and reconsider my position.

      Has the team improved over last season? It sure looks like it. Is it good enough to compete for a playoff spot? Doubt it.

      The point is, don’t confuse an overabundance of depth at some positions, like linebacker and tight end, for having real depth. If nothing else, it shows how many holes last year’s squad had.

      BEAR DOWN!

  • Doshi

    Well, there’s kinda a point in there. In certain areas, the Bears are deeper than they’ve ever been. They’ve currently got 5 Starting caliber LBs, and another that could be a starter on a few (bad) teams. The WRs are fantastic top to bottom with the exception of Davis. I’ve said this for months, the Bears currently have at least 4 different WR2s, more than any other team in the NFL, and I think that two of them have the talent to become legit WR1s (DevA and Johnny Flyer). The RBs also have pretty good depth, though I’m not sure how much that’ll help this team given that only one or two RBs can be on the field at the same time. Forte is a legit RB1, and Taylor is an RB1.5 (he can start for many teams, and is a fantastic backup). That’s really all you need out of the RB position.

    But that’s where the depth ends. I’m not as scared for the secondary anymore with Wright and Harris in the fold, but realistically Harris is the only legit starter at Safety. I liked Afalava last year, but I’m disappointed that he hasn’t seemed to improve from that. None of the others really stand out to me. At Corner, we’ve got an All Pro in Peanut who can cover anybody 6-4 or shorter, and at least one other legit starter between Bowman, Graham, Jennings, and Moore. I think they’ll miss Vasher back there, as I think he’ll break out again this season finally being healthy and all.

    The lines are in horrendous shape. On the DL, there’s really only one legitimate starter currently playing in position, and that’s Peppers. Izzy is a DT, not a DE. Anderson isn’t a starter, and probably is a borderline roster player on most teams. Harris will never again be healthy or productive. None of the others have done anything at the professional level. We will miss Wale and especially Brown this year. Wale is clearly on the downside of his career, but can still be productive. Brown was the steadiest player on this Bears DL for years and years. Never great, but never bad either. To just dump him and get nothing in return is a massive mistake. On the offensive side, three spots are secure. Kreutz is old, no doubt, but he was still decent enough to 1-on-1 or help on a combo block against most 4-3 DTs. Garza is good, not great, and has solidified his spot at RG. Williams is our LT, sink or swim at the position. LG and RT are complete mysteries to me. None of the players other than the 3 starters already identified have either much experience or much success at their spots on the line.

    This team does have depth at certain positions. But the key ones where having depth really matters (like the lines), they are sorely missing players.

    • Boomer

      Great insight Doshi. It’s nice to see someone else who gets it. Think about the ’85 Bears – they were killers up front. Offensive and Defensive lines were stacked top to bottom. That’s where they dominated on both sides of the ball and what led them to a Super Bowl crown.