During one of the biggest offseasons in team history, the Chicago Bears elected to part ways with long time (and admittedly oft injured) free safety Mike Brown. While we can debate the merits of that decision forever, it left the Bears with a hole to fill, both in terms of safety play and in on-the-field leadership.
While the Bears have been working with Daneial Manning and Kevin Payne at the free safety spot, the on-field leadership was supposed to fall on the shoulders of star middle linebacker Brian Urlacher.
Urlacher however suffered a season ending wrist injury in the first half of the opening week's game against the Green Bay Packers.
Lance Briggs was made the defensive captain in place of Urlacher, and while he is fully capable of shouldering that load, the defense still needs that emotional leader that was lost when Mike Brown was let go.
Mike Brown was the catalyst for the Bears defense. When he would make a play, it was like giving the entire defense a shot of adrenaline.
Alex Brown has that same quality.
The Steelers were dominating the game up until Brown got a hit on Big Ben, which led directly to a Charles Tillman interception. From there on out, Pittsburgh had trouble moving the ball. Brown added two more sacks in the game.
He had four sacks in a primetime game against the New York Giants in 2004. He blocked a Green Bay Packers field goal to keep the Bears alive in a game they eventually won at the end of the 2008 season. That victory kept the Bears in the playoff race, albeit briefly.
Brown has dealt with adversity like a champion. In 2007, he lost his starting spot to second year player Mark Anderson. While there was no denying Anderson had a terrific season the year before, Brown was demoted after suffering an injury.
When he returned, the starting position had been handed to Anderson without any real chance for competition, which is the normal rule of thumb.
As it turned out, Brown worked hard and kept at it and won his starting spot back after outperforming Anderson that year.
He is a clutch, steady performer who has continued to improve every year.
He suffered an injury near the end of the Steeler game but is still expected to play this weekend. The time has come for him to step up and be a leader for the team, both on and off the field.
If Alex Brown succeeds, then the defense does also.