Chicago Bears Insider: Midseason Report Card (Defense)

Bryan DietzlerSenior Analyst INovember 12, 2011

Chicago Bears Insider: Midseason Report Card (Defense)

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    The Bears have always prided themselves in having a good defense, but at times this season, the Bears defense has been questionable. 

    Lately, the defense has picked things up with good games against the Vikings and the Buccaneers and look like they are ready to have a strong second half of the season.

    But how did this group perform in the first half of the season?

    Let’s find out as we grade each player on defense for what they have done so far this season.

Defensive Ends

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    Mario Addison: INC

    Addison hasn’t seen any playing time, and so his grade is incomplete.

    Israel Idoinje: B-

    Idonije is not having the kind of impact year that he did last year, but he’s still holding his own and had a good game against the Eagles. He’s good going up against the run but has his struggles rushing the passer at times.

    Julius Peppers: B-

    Peppers has been injured, so he gets a little bit of a pass. Though, he had a slow start to the season when he wasn’t hurt. He has just recently started to pick things up.

    Teams still have to plan around him, making it difficult for them to execute their offenses.

    Nick Reed: C

    Reed has made a few plays but hasn’t shown us the flashes that he did in preseason. He might see some more playing time but still has a ways to go in terms of being a regular on the defensive line.

    Corey Wootton: INC

    Wootton hasn’t been getting a lot of playing time this season, so he gets an incomplete grade at the half-way point.

Defensive Line

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    Anthony Adams: B- 

    Adams has been pretty quiet this season but has been doing a good job, for the most part, against the run. He’s not reaching the quarterback often, but he’s been able to plug those running holes and make a difference. 

    He’s also not staying healthy very well this year. 

    Henry Melton: C+

    Melton had a huge start in the Falcons game but has since dropped off and isn’t playing as well. The explanation could be that he’s not reaping the benefits of playing next to an effective pass rusher, as Peppers has been struggling.

    Amobi Okoye: C+

    This grade could be higher if the Bears used him more.

    Okoye played really well during the preseason, so it’s a wonder why the Bears don’t have him in the lineup more.

    Stephen Paea: INC

    Like Okoye, Paea hasn’t been used that often, but he had a good showing against the Vikings, making some wonder why he hasn’t been used that often. 

    Perhaps he will get more chances to show himself as the season goes on.

    Matt Toeania: C

    Toeania was hurt earlier in the season but has come back to work in the rotation on the defensive line. Toeania does have some value on the line and has been missed. 

    His coming back will be a boost to the defense.

Linebackers

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    Lance Briggs: A+

    Even though he caused a lot of problems to start the season, Briggs is playing up to and beyond his usual Pro Bowl form. He’s one of the reasons why the Bears have been able to win games, and he'll be back in the Pro Bowl once again.

    Dom DeCicco: INC

    One of the stars of the preseason is being used on special teams, but the Bears haven’t found the need to put him in on defense this season. 

    Therefore, his grade is incomplete.

    Brian Iwuh: B

    This grade comes from his performance on special teams. He really hasn’t seen any action at the linebacker position this season.

    J.T. Thomas: INC

    The Bears managed to find a spot on the roster for Thomas, who many thought would not make the roster. He’s on it though, playing on special teams and developing behind some of the best linebackers in the NFL.

    Brian Urlacher: A+

    Urlacher is looking like he did when he was in his second or third season in the league. He’s made some athletic interceptions, been a tackling machine and is a big-time leader on the field. 

    He is showing no signs of slowing down.

    Nick Roach: B

    Roach has been holding his own at the linebacker spot opposite Briggs and is making plays when he has to. He’s been quiet, but he’s been very helpful in making that defense tough.

Safeties

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    Chris Conte: C+

    So far, so good for Conte, who has been thrown into the mix as a starter and may end up being a full time starter before it’s all said and done. 

    Conte has flashed some good play so far and will only continue to improve.

    Brandon Meriweather: D+

    If you like hard hits, then Meriweather is your guy. If you like sticking to the plan, then he isn’t.

    He was a starter for the Bears until they benched him because he did what ended up being the same thing that got him cut in New England.

    Craig Steltz: D

    The Bears haven’t even brought him up in the conversation as being a starter at the safety position, making it appear as if the Bears don’t have any confidence in his ability to play safety. 

    While he is a good special teamer, he’s not ever going to make it as a safety.

    Major Wright: C+

    Wright has a tall task to perform for the rest of the year now that he is a full-time starter, but he’s slowly started to come into his own and play better. 

    His game against the Eagles was a good one, and hopefully he will have several more like that one.

Cornerbacks

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    Zack Bowman: C- 

    Bowman was once a starter at the cornerback position but has since fallen off and is now been relegated to special teams duty.

    If called upon, he could play against the pass well, but he’s not that good against the run, and the Bears see that as too big of a liability to have him on the field.
     

    Corey Graham: A

    Graham gets an A for his special teams play.

    Tim Jennings: B+

    The Bears have two very good cornerbacks and Jennings is showing that he can hold his own in both the passing and running game. 

    He had a bit of a bumpy start with the team last year but has looked very good so far this year.

    D.J. Moore: B

    As the Bear’s nickel back, Moore has been playing pretty well. He’s come up with a couple of big plays this season and doesn’t give up much when he’s in the game (covering wide receivers). 

    He will continue to develop and play the nickel position even better as time goes on.

    Charles Tillman: B+

    Tillman had a great year last year and is having another good one this year. He’s been aggressive with his tackling, covers receivers well and helps keep the defense safe on the corners. 

    Even though he’s getting older, he’s still very effective.

    Anthony Walters: INC

    We haven’t seen Walters play yet, so there is no grade that we can give him here.

Specialists

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    Robbie Gould-A+

    Gould is automatic, game in and game out. There is no other grade to give him than an A.

    Patrick Mannelly-A+

    Mannelly hasn’t made any of the kinds of mistakes that he made a couple of seasons ago and is solid.  But how many more years is he going to play?

    Adam Podlesh-A- 

    The Bears knew what they were doing when they let former punter Brad Maynard go and brought in Adam Podlesh. Podlesh has been solid on his punts and helps the Bears keep their opponents off balance with poor field position.