Getting Back to Bears Football: Defense

Kevin WhitesellCorrespondent IJanuary 10, 2009

With the 18th* pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears will select a defensive player.

Coming off a 9–7 campaign, the Bears’ biggest need lies on the defensive side of the ball; especially in pass coverage.  The release of three defensive coaches further escalates the need for defensive help.

In 2008, the Bears’ “D” ranked 21st overall and 30th against the pass.  Such a performance is a far cry from their 2006 ranking of the 5th overall.  

The answers lie in the draft.  

Given the often injured S Mike Brown and CB Nathan Vasher, additional cornerback and safety help are needed.  Taylor Mays, the standout safety from USC or CB Vontae Davis of Illinois could slide to the Bears at 18 and be pivotal in turning around their pass defense.  Had they been on the 2008 roster, multiple big pass plays may have been successfully defended.

Defensive end Bertrand Berry, an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, could be a potential role player on the defensive line adding the veteran leadership and depth at the position.

While GM Jerry Angelo recently expressed the Bears’ need for competition at the quarterback level, he should not forget the old adage: “Defense wins Championships.”  Just ask the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants, who defeated the offensive juggernaut New England Patriots.  Or better yet, the National Champion Florida Gators. Remember them?  They held the Oklahoma Sooners to just 14 points.

Yet, Angelo makes a solid point; you do win because of your quarterback.  However, you also lose with the quarterback, especially one with limited offensive weapons. Kyle Orton is in dire need of an arsenal.  Rookie running back Matt Forte is a bright spot in the Bears’ offense, but he cannot do it alone. 

The loss of Bernard Berrian, a receiver who could stretch the field, proved costly to the Bears.  A No. 1 receiver must be added.  Devin Hester is not the answer.

Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree and Missouri WR Jeremy Maclin have declared for the draft. Florida’s Percy Harvin has yet to do so.  Crabtree is projected to go early.  Should Harvin declare, he and Maclin could provide an offensive spark.  Yet such players cannot come at the expense of addressing the more pressing defensive concerns.

So Mr. Angelo, when you go on the clock “GO DEFENSE.”

* The Bears will draft 18th unless the Chargers get to the Super Bowl, then the Bears would move up to 17th.