Chicago Bears’ Misfit Linebacker: Lamarr Houston


In 2014, Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery made it a point to add Oakland Raiders defensive lineman Lamarr Houston to the team because of Houston’s efficiency in stopping the run, he was ranked number one by PFF for defensive ends at the time. The Houston singing was quickly overshadowed as Emery then threw big money at long time rival, Jared Allen.

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Between settling into his new role as a full-time defensive end, poor play calling, and lack of heart… which was a team effort, Lamarr Houston’s 2014 campaign left Bears fans unimpressed having labeled him a “bust signing” by week five.

Houston finally registered his first sack for Chicago in the Bears’ week eight outing against the Patriots when he brought down backup quarter back Jimmy Garoppolo in the fourth quarter, celebrating his achievement, Houston proceeded to tear his ACL, a season ending injury. Though Houston got to miss the rest of the Bears horrid 2014 season, Bears fans, unfortunately did not.

Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Enter 2015, the Bears have added a young and exciting general manager to repair a broken and beaten down franchise in Ryan Pace. The youngster GM then turns to a well-known commodity in head coach John Fox who was recently let go by Denver, the two then filled out the rest of the coaching staff.

They landed big name coordinators Adam Gase, who held the same position for Fox in Denver, and Vic Fangio who is widely considered one of the best defensive coordinators in the NFL due to his work in San Francisco.

For weeks Fox left Bears fans and media to wonder if the Bears would employ a 4-3 which Chicago had exclusively ran for the life of the franchise or if they would adopt Fangio’s prefered 3-4. Finally, the team had decided they would be transitioning to a three-man front which opened the door to several more questions about the defense and who would succeed in it.

Having not completely evaluated the team, Fox had said in the same press conference that the teams starting outside linebackers or “edge rushers” would be Chicago’s big 2015 free agent Pernell McPhee and 2014 addition Lamarr Houston.

When Houston first got to Chicago he told reporters he felt “more disruptive” playing from a two point stance, his statement could be supported statistics showing Houston’s success as a linebacker/edge rusher, of his six sacks in 2013, four came when he was playing as an up man on the outside, one can only imagine Houston’s excitement when he found out he would be playing primarily as a linebacker.

Sep 7, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; (Editors note: caption correction) Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson (22) loses his helmet while being tackled by Chicago Bears defensive end Lamarr Houston (99) during the first quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Houston spent the bulk of the 2015 offesason nursing the knee injury and slowly worked his way back onto the field for some meaningful snaps. During the preseason, Houston worked mostly with the second team and usually against the opposing team’s backups where he looked like he was getting back to playing form just in time for the regular season.

In the Bears’ home opener, Jared Allen once again stole Houston’s thunder getting the start and pushing him back to a backup spot where he receiver just four defensive snaps. Week two proved to be a better outing for Houston who was still working as a backup when he tallied a whopping 18 defensive snaps.

Plain and simple, the Bears are misusing Lamarr Houston’s talents, he deserves to be a starter in this defensive whether at outside linebacker or again on the defensive line at 5-Technique, Lamarr Houston being on the field makes this team better. Since the beginning of the offseason, there has been no indication his knee injury is to blame for his lack of playing time, provided he is healthy, the Bears MUST find creative ways to get their “big get” of 2014 on to the field.

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