After Monday night’s loss to the Giants, I’ve been taking solace in the fact that the Bears came out of the game clean, injury free. Sure, the scoreboard showed 41-13 in favor of New York, but the reality proved to be 0-2 in favor of the Bears. The two for the Giants were starting cornerback Terrell Thomas and backup corner Brian Witherspoon, both lost for the season with torn ACL’s.
(Let me take a very quick detour on this post to point out that as critical as I’ve been about Soldier Field, no one blew out a knee on their crappy grass. Just sayin’. Now, back to your regularly scheduled post.)
After the big losses the Giants suffered, it got me to thinking (uh oh!): Which player could the Bears least afford to lose? Check out the contenders after the jump.
JC is an obvious choice. If any team loses their franchise quarterback (and for better or worse, Cutler fits that description for the Bears), they will be in trouble. Just think about what might happen in Indianapolis if Peyton Manning’s neck keeps him out for any extended period of time.
Say what you want about Caleb Hanie’s effort in the NFC Championship game, but there is a big dropoff between Hanie and Cutler. Don’t even bring rookie Nathan Enderle into the discussion; he’s not ready to run Mike Martz’s offense against #1 defenses.
If you watched the first half of the Bears’ preseason game against the Giants, you saw a big dropoff on the defense when Peppers left the game. No one on the Bears defense was even close to the productivity and pressure that Peppers was able to provide. It’s not fair to try to put that on Izzy Idonije or anyone else on the defensive front – Peppers is an absolute beast.
There has been a lot of buzz about the depth on the defensive line, but Peppers is the key. If there was any down time, there would be virtually no pressure from the edge. Izzy is solid on the other side, but would he be as productive without Pep applying pressure opposite him?
The backups Vernon Gholston, Nick Reed and Marcus Addison don’t exactly inspire confidence. Moving Henry Melton back outside after he just bulked up to move inside seems like a bad move, especially since there are still some question marks inside.
He’s the point man on the Bears defense, making all the calls and covering ground that not many other middle linebackers can cover. Look no further than the 2009 season to see how life without Urlacher would be.
The scoring defense ranked 21st in the league, allowing 23.4 points per game without ‘Lach. Last season? They moved up to 4th, giving up 17.9 points per game. Urlacher is a huge reason for that difference.
Matt Forte – sure Marion Barber, Chester Taylor (if he sticks on the team) and Kahlil Bell could step in, but would they do it to the same level as Forte?
Charles Tillman – the Bears secondary is shaky and the dropoff in cornerbacks is steep after Tillman. He’s not the same player he was a few years ago, but he’s the best we’ve got. Can you imagine the combo of Zack Bowman and Tim Jennings going up against Roddy White and Julio Jones in Week 1? Me neither.