Chicago Bears Bye Week Report: Looking Back at the Defense

Bryan DietzlerSenior Analyst IOctober 30, 2010

Chicago Bears Bye Week Report: Looking Back at the Defense

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    CHICAGO - OCTOBER 24: Ryan Torain #46 of the Washington Redskins is tackled by Charles Tillman #33 and Pisa Tinoisamoa #59 of the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on October 24, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Redskins defeated the Bears 17-14. (Photo by Jon
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    There were many people that felt the Bears defense would be in trouble this season even though they acquired superstar defensive end Julius Peppers in free agency during the offseason.  There was a lot of discussion surrounding the secondary and how well it would perform.  

    There were many who felt that the defensive line (aside from Peppers) wouldn’t be that good this season.  Most of that centered on the interior defensive line, despite the fact they had Tommie Harris.  
    And then there were those who felt that even though middle linebacker Brian Urlacher was back and healthy, he was clearly on the decline and wouldn’t factor well this season. 

    Let’s take a look at those players on defense and how they’ve performed throughout the first seven games of the season.  They have also been given a grade based on a grading scale devised by this writer.  The grading scale is as follows:

    A: Excellent, no flaws, very valuable player

    B: Solid, some flaws, valuable player

    C: Fair, as many flaws as there is upside, marginal player

    D: Poor, many more flaws than upside, not a quality performer

    F: Very poor, completely flawed, shouldn’t be in the lineup at all

    I-Incomplete, we haven’t seen enough of the player to give them a grade so far this season

DE Julius Peppers

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    CHICAGO - OCTOBER 17: Julius Peppers #90 of the Chicago Bears participates in warm-ups before a game against the Seattle Seahawks at Soldier Field on October 17, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Seahawks defeated the Bears 23-20. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/G
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Peppers was signed this offseason to help improve the Bears pass rush and he has helped, but it’s still not quite as good as many fans thought that it would be.  He has made some great plays but has also not been as productive as many had hoped.  His presence has been enough to help the pass rush but sometimes that isn’t enough.  Still, for what he has done, we have to give him a good grade.  Grade: A

DT Anthony Adams

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    CHICAGO - OCTOBER 24: Ryan Torain #46 of the Washington Redskins runs past Tim Jennings #26 and Anthony Adams #95 of the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on October 24, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Redskins defeated the Bears 17-14. (Photo by Jonathan Dan
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Adams, a player that has been much maligned in the past by the coaching staff, has been playing very well for the Bears and is a quiet, but steady force in the middle.  We saw some of the things that he’s been able to do (the play in the Bears game against the Giants is just one example of many that he has had so far this season).  Look for him to continue to be solid in the middle and a vital part of the defensive line. Grade: B

DT Tommie Harris

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    CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 12: Tommie Harris #91 and Julius Peppers #90 of the Chicago Bears await the start of play against the Detroit Lions during the NFL season opening game at Soldier Field on September 12, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Harris has been on the downside of his career for a while now, but the coaching staff thought that with the addition of Peppers, Harris would find new life and turn into the player that he once was.  Unfortunately that hasn’t happened.  Harris was even inactive for a game this season because the Bears felt that he didn’t fit what they were trying to do in that particular game (against the Packers).  That would have been impossible to do when he was playing at a Pro Bowl level.

    Harris has his moments, but he’s not doing much to help the Bears with their pass rush.  Grade: C

DT Marcus Harrison

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    CHICAGO - AUGUST 28: Marcus Harrison #99 of the Chicago Bears participates in warm-ups before a preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals at Soldier Field on August 28, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cardinals defeated the Bears 14-9.  (Photo by Jonath
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Has anyone seen Harrison?  It appears as if Harrison has really fallen out of favor with the Bears, and has only participated in one game this season.  It would appear as if he has fallen out of favor with the coaching staff and is no longer a factor.  If there is an injury later on in the season, we might see him but for now he’s remaining inactive on game day.  Grade: I

DE Israel Idonije

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    CHICAGO - OCTOBER 17: John Carlson #89 of the Seattle Seahawks blocks Israel Idonije #71 of the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on October 17, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Seahawks defeated the Bears 23-20. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Idonije didn’t show us too much while Mark Anderson was here, but after the Bears released him, Idonije stepped up and has been playing pretty well ever since.  With Peppers in the lineup, some of the heat came off Idonije and he was able to play well.  Look for Idonije to continue to keep making big plays this season and finally show the Bears that he’s one of the better players on the roster.  Grade: B

DT/DE Henry Melton

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    CHICAGO - OCTOBER 17: Henry Melton #69 of the Chicago Bears participates in warm-ups before a game against the Seattle Seahawks at Soldier Field on October 17, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Seahawks defeated the Bears 23-20.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Ge
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Melton surprised a lot of people by making the team in training camp and has been used extensively to relieve some of the guys in the interior of the defensive line.  He has made a few plays that can be considered decent, but nothing too spectacular.  He’s a good backup and but not a solid starter.  If he has to start on a regular basis, there could be some problems.  Grade: C

DT Matt Toeaina

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    CHICAGO - OCTOBER 24: Matt Toeaina #75 of the Chicago Bears hits Donovan McNabb #5 of the Washington Redskins after a pass at Soldier Field on October 24, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Redskins defeated the Bears 17-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Im
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Toeaina has been a starter for five games and has been playing pretty well.  While he may not get his name called that much, he has been effective in the middle of the defensive line and has even gotten some pressure on the quarterback.  After struggling to make the roster for the past few seasons, he’s finally stuck and is contributing pretty well on defense.  Grade: B

DE Barry Turner

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    BOURBONNAIS, IL - JULY 30: Barry Turner #96 of the Chicago Bears works out during a summer training camp practice at Olivet Nazarene University on July 30, 2010 in Bourbonnais, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Bears just called Turner up from the practice squad, and he hasn’t had a chance to play yet.  He did have some good plays in training camp, so perhaps he will get a chance to do something on game day in the second half of the season.  Grade: I

DE Corey Wootton

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    BOURBONNAIS, IL - JULY 30: Corey Wootton #98 of the Chicago Bears waits for the start of play during a summer training camp practice at Olivet Nazarene University on July 30, 2010 in Bourbonnais, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Wootton has seen just a little bit of action so far this season, and hasn’t had much of an impact on defense yet.  Look for the Bears to try to work him into a rotation more often with Idonije and see what he can do.  He’s got a lot of talent and the Bears just need to use it.  Grade: I

DT Averell Spicer

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    CHICAGO - OCTOBER 24: Chris Cooley #47 of the Washington Redskins runs pursued by Julius Peppers #90 and Anthony Adams #95 of the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on October 24, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Redskins defeated the Bears 17-14.  (Photo by Jo
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Spicer is a practice squad player and hasn’t seen game day yet.  Grade: I

OLB Lance Briggs

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    CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 27:  Jermichael Finley #88 of the Green Bay Packers makes a reception against Lance Briggs #55 of the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 27, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears won 20-17.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Imag
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The return of Urlacher has helped Briggs become an even better player this season than he was last season.  He has been stout against the run and has helped out a lot in defending against the pass.  However, in the last two games, Briggs has missed significant time because of an ankle injury and the Bears defense; in particular their run defense has suffered.

    Briggs being out has clearly had a negative effect on the Bears.  Hopefully he will get healed up during the bye week and be ready for the rest of the season. Grade: A

OLB Brian Iwuh

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    CHICAGO - OCTOBER 17: Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks scores a touchdown pursued by Brian Iwuh #52 and Danieal Manning #38 of the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on October 17, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Seahawks defeated the Bears 23-20. (P
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Iwuh has had plenty of action since Briggs has been out, and while he’s not as good as Briggs by any stretch of the imagination, he has been serviceable if not solid.  He hasn’t played as well against the pass as the coaching staff may have liked, but he’s been doing well in many situations and is an adequate backup.  Still, we all hope for Briggs to return soon.  Grade: C+

LB Nick Roach

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 03:  Matt Dodge #6 of the New York Giants punts the after bobbling the snap against Nick Roach #53 of the Chicago Bears at New Meadowlands Stadium on October 3, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Michael Heiman/G
    Michael Heiman/Getty Images

    We haven’t seen a lot of Roach this season.  He ended the preseason recovering from surgery and then had a hamstring issue through a few games.  He has seen action in six games this year, mostly on special teams, but hasn’t seen much action on defense.  The Bears do realize that they have a more-than-adequate backup at the linebacker position with Roach, and if they need him, they can call on him and not miss much in terms of talent at the position.  Grade: B

OLB Pisa Tinoisamoa

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 10: Tight end Dante Rosario #88 of the Carolina Panthers and linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa #59 of the Chicago Bears leap for the ball at Bank of America Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Geoff Burke/
    Geoff Burke/Getty Images

    The Bears didn’t get to see much out of Tinoisamoa in 2009, so they were happy to have him back and starting this season.  Tinoisamoa has been strong against the run, but with recent injuries suffered by Briggs, he has been asked to stay in on passing downs and has struggled with that on occasion.  He has still made some nice plays and has even got a sack.  Grade: B

MLB Brian Urlacher

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    CHICAGO - OCTOBER 24: Brian Urlacher #54 of the Chicago Bears celebrates a defensive touchdown against the Washington Redskins at Soldier Field on October 24, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Redskins defeated the Bears 17-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Gett
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    After many people felt that Urlacher would be washed up, he’s come back with a vengeance.  His play in the first few games of the season reminded many of us of his first years in the NFL and fans (as well as his teammates) were certainly happy to have him back.  Urlacher has been a force against both the run and the pass and has emerged, once again, as their leader on defense.  

    He’s a big reason why this defense has been able to do what it has done, and he’s an invaluable part of the Chicago Bears roster.  Grade: A

LB Rod Wilson

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    CHICAGO - OCTOBER 24: (L-R) D.J. Moore #30, Tommie Harris #91, Rod Wilson #58, Israel Idonije #71 and Henry Melton #69 of the Chicago Bears celebrate a defensive stop against the Washington Redskins at Soldier Field on October 24, 2010 in Chicago, Illinoi
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Wilson was signed after the Bears put Hunter Hillenmeyer on injured reserve.  He has done nothing more than play on special teams and while he is good there, he did have a key holding penalty on a kickoff return for a touchdown that wiped out the play.  Grade: C

LB Hunter Hillenmeyer

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    CHICAGO - AUGUST 28: Steve Breaston #15 of the Arizona Cardinals dives in to the end zone for a touchdown as Hunter Hillenmeyer #92 of the Chicago Bears pursues during a preseason game at Soldier Field on August 28, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cardinal
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    As mentioned, Hillenmeyer is out for the season with a concussion.  He only played in the first half of the first game (against Detroit).  Grade: I

LB Chris Johnson

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    CHICAGO - OCTOBER 24: (L-R) Tommie Harris #91, Rod Wilson #58, Israel Idonije #71 and Henry Melton #69 of the Chicago Bears celebrate a defensive stop against the Washington Redskins at Soldier Field on October 24, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Redskins
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Johnson is on the practice squad and hasn’t played in a regular season game as of yet.  Grade: I

S Josh Bullocks

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    CHICAGO - OCTOBER 04: Josh Bullocks #36 of the Chicago Bears participates in warm-ups before a game against the Detroit Lions on October 4, 2009 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Lions 48-24. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Ima
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Bullocks really didn’t see much action until the Bears' last game (against the Redskins).  The safeties have stayed relatively healthy so there hasn’t been too much of a need to have him on the field.  Grade: I

S Chris Harris

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 10: Safety Chris Harris #46 of the Chicago Bears stands on the field against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
    Geoff Burke/Getty Images

    Fans were ecstatic when Harris, a former Bear and pretty decent player, came back to Chicago to help the Bears take care of their problems at the safety position.  And while Harris has had his good moments, he has had some bad ones.  He’s definitely not playing as well here as he did in Carolina and may get replaced by Major Wright if Wright can ever stay healthy.  Grade: B-

S Craig Steltz

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    DETROIT - JANUARY 03: Maurice Morris #28 of the Detroit Lions gets around Craig Steltz #20 of the Chicago Bears during a first quarter run on January 3, 2010 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    We haven’t seen much of Steltz this season except on special teams.  His injury in the preseason kept him out of competition for a starting stop at safety, so he entered the season as the third player at that position.  If there is an injury, Steltz could see some action but for right now he’s good on special teams.  Grade: I

S Danieal Manning

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    CHICAGO - OCTOBER 24: Danieal Manning #38 and Anthony Adams #95 of the Chicago Bears celebrate Mannings' interception against the Washington Redskins at Soldier Field on October 24, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Redskins defeated the Bears 17-14. (Photo
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Manning struggled at the position in season's past, and it was thought that there was a chance that he wouldn’t even be on the team this season.  Despite all the adversity, Manning managed to win the starting job and has performed pretty well.  He is also doing well on kickoff returns.  As long as he can keep playing like he has been (at the safety position), he should have a pretty solid season.  Grade: B

S Major Wright

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    CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 12: Major Wright #27 and Danieal Manning #38 of the Chicago Bears celebrate a defensive play against the Detroit Lions during the NFL season opening game at Soldier Field on September 12, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated t
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Wright hasn’t seen much action since the Detroit game thanks to a severely pulled hamstring, but it appears as if he will be back when the Bears face the Bills after the bye.  Hopefully he comes back and plays as well as he did when he showed some strong flashes of ability in training camp.  Grade: I

CB Zachary Bowman

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    LAKE FOREST, IL - MAY 04:  Zackary Bowman #35 of the Chicago Bears runs with the ball during a rookie mini-camp practice at Halas Hall May 4, 2008 in Lake Forest, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Bowman has been hot and cold this season so far.  He was pulled in the Green Bay game in favor of Tim Jennings after having some trouble making tackles in the running game.  After that he didn’t start and then suffered an injury in the Seattle game and missed the Washington game.  Bowman has not been consistent in his play this season, which shows that he may not be ideally suited for a starting cornerback role. Grade: C

CB Corey Graham

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    CHICAGO - AUGUST 28: Corey Graham #21 of the Chicago Bears drops Beanie Wells #26 of the Arizona Cardinals during a preseason game at Soldier Field on August 28, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cardinals defeated the Bears 14-9. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/G
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Graham hasn’t seen any action on defense this season but has been somewhat of a demon on special teams.  His role on punt return coverage teams has been an important one and he’s managed to carve a niche out for himself on those units.  Grade: B

CB Tim Jennings

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    CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 27:  Tim Jennings #26 of the Chicago Bears reacts after he recovered a fumble late in the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field on September 27, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    As Bowman has faltered at cornerback at times, the coaching staff put former Indianapolis Colts starter Jennings in and he has played pretty well.  He has been involved in a couple of big plays for the defense and is a pretty decent cover corner.  The Bears may have struck a little bit of gold with Jennings thanks to his experience and savvy.  Grade: B

CB D.J. Moore

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    CHICAGO - OCTOBER 24: D.J. Moore #30 of the Chicago Bears runs 52 yards for a touchdown after an interception against of the Washington Redskins at Soldier Field on October 24, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Redskins defeated the Bears 17-14. (Photo by Jo
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Moore is the Bears' starting nickelback, and he has been playing that position very well.  He’s collected three interceptions (including two in one game against the Cowboys) and has returned one of those interceptions for a touchdown.  Granted, he hasn’t made noticeable plays in every game, but he had a big hand in helping the Bears win the game against Dallas and got the first defensive touchdown of the season.  Grade: B

CB Joshua Moore

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    CHICAGO - AUGUST 28: Joshua Moore #31 of the Chicago Bears participates in warm-ups before a preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals at Soldier Field on August 28, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cardinals defeated the Bears 14-9. (Photo by Jonathan D
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Moore hasn’t seen a lot of action this season and has only been active for one game.  With the cornerback position being pretty much injury free (up until Bowman’s injury), there hasn’t been too much of a need to have Moore in the mix.  Grade: I

CB Charles Tillman

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    CHICAGO - OCTOBER 24: Charles Tillman #33 and Julius Peppers #90 celebrate a take-away by Tillman against the Chicago Bears of the Washington Redskins at Soldier Field on October 24, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Redskins defeated the Bears 17-14. (Photo
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    While Tillman’s cover skills may be eroding a little bit, he’s one of the Bears best tacklers and can really get in there and create turnovers.  He had a spectacular game against the Redskins and seems to know how to cause turnovers.  He’s a big reason why the defense and the secondary have had a lot of success in 2010.  Grade: A-