Starting Middle Linebacker:
DJ Williams vs Jon Bostic
The Bears defense went into total overhaul mode coming off a season where they held the distinction of being one of the worst Chicago Bears defenses EVER.
GM Phil Emery brought in 12 new players, either through free agency or draft, who should not only have a good shot of being on the final 53 man roster but who also should contribute on defense (Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston, Willie Young, Will Sutton, Ego Ferguson, Austen Lane, Trevor Scott, Adrian Wilson, Brock Vereen, Ryan Mundy, MD Jennings and Danny McCray)
None of those added players though fill a linebacker role. The only additions made at the position were the signings of special team ace Jordan Senn from Carolina and undrafted rookie Chandler Jones and the moving of failed defensive end Shea McClellin to strong-side linebacker.
In other words, the Bears braintrust is hoping that one of these two players can anchor a defense that ranked 30th in both points (29.9) and yards (394.6) allowed per game last year.
|Photo courtesy of Beargoggleson.com|
An 11 year veteran, drafted out of the University of Miami, Williams started 14 games for the Denver Broncos in his rookie season. A physical freak coming out of college, Williams stepped in and played solidly for the Broncos all the way through the 2011 season.
2012 was marred in controversy as he suffered a six game suspension for using performance enhancing drugs and a three game suspension for a DUI conviction.
He signed with the Bears in 2013 but played in only six games due to a ruptured pectoral tendon he suffered against the New Orleans Saints.
Throughout his entire career, Williams has been credited with 851 tackles 22.5 sacks, two interceptions and 14 forced fumbles.
He is a player on the down slope of his career, but the only way to know how MUCH of a drop off has actually happened is if he can play for a consistent number of games. If he can regain some of his Bronco form, that may give the Bears the luxury starting Williams and utilizing Bostic in ways to maximize his athleticism.
|Photo courtesy of ChicagoTribune.com|
A second round pick out of the University of Florida last season, Bostic was thrust into a prominent role when the Bears lost both Williams and seven time Pro Bowler Lance Briggs before their bye in week eight.
Bostic struggled making the defensive calls while shouldering the middle linebacker responsibilities. He displayed athleticism and toughness, recording 57 tackles and two sacks, but constantly over ran plays and found difficulty in shedding blocks to get to the ball carrier.
In his defense, no pun intended, the Bears D-line was in shambles and he received little-to-no over the top help from either of the safeties.
The hope is that with the year of experience and more talent both on the front and back lines of the defense, it will allow Bostic's game to come more naturally. If Bostic doesn't have to worry about doing too much, he should flourish.
Despite Williams proven track record when healthy, the Bears need youth in their starting 11 and given his ceiling ability and the need for the Bears to find a long term answer at the mike linebacker spot, Bostic should get the starting nod before the end of camp.