Chicago Sun-Times reported that Nick Roach would be getting looks at strong side linebacker ahead of both Hunter Hillenmeyer and Jamar Williams. There hasn't been a lot of discussion so far amongst Bears fans about this apparent change in the pecking order at the position. While Pisa Tinoisamoa is apparently still in the Bears plans, they are allowing him to play the market a bit since he was unable to do so last year, and want PT to feel as if he is being given a fair deal. However, should PT choose to sign elsewhere those words from Lovie would seem to spell the beginning of the Roach era. Follow me below the fold while we take a quick look at why Roach is being named ahead of HH and Jamar.
First and foremost, we have made it perfectly known that if PT ends up resigning with the Bears he is going to be the starter by Week 1 barring injury, if not going into camp. PT is a very good player who is in his prime which fits very well with this team, and where they are at age wise. However, resigning Pisa isn't a guarantee so we need to be very aware of what we have left on our roster at the LB position.
Nick Roach: I happen to really like this guy as a player, he's very athletic, very intelligent, and is well-known for a motor that just does not stop. He was fairly productive in college, but as everyone well knows he ended up going undrafted because of a devastating broken leg in his senior campaign that could have been career ending. This combined with some hernia surgery he had done during his junior campaign raised a few red flags, and ended with him getting picked up by the Chargers.
Take this for what you will, but I remember hearing the reason he was let go from the Chargers was two fold, he hadn't completely recovered from the broken leg, and he wasn't a good fit for their 3-4 defense. He has been mostly injury free since joining the Bears, and put in a lot of hard work across the board.
Jamar Williams: This is one of those guys that really works to improve his game, as he addressed many of the major knocks on his game before entering the draft back in '06. He worked on his speed and stamina, knocking about .2sec off his 40 time to get it down around a 4.6. His major assets though are his good ball skills, and extremely good ability to read and diagnose plays. As terrible as this may sound, but he may be even better than Urlacher when it actually comes down to reaction time and correctly reading the plays, but he isn't really the athlete that Brian is/was. His proper recognition and fast reaction time are what allow him to stay caught up on an NFL level as he struggles at times recovering if he over runs a play due to his stiff hips. He also gets fairly good penetration when called to rush from the weak side. If he were to ever improve his fluidity and agility he could very well be a replacement for the Hurtlocker.
I'm not going to get into HH too much here, as he is a smart player, great guy, but the quintessential fantastic backup LB, and is extremely doubtful to be anything more in what is left in his career with the Bears.
So what does this mean exactly? It would seem the most logical conclusion is they have Jamar Williams penciled in again as Lance Briggs back up since WLB is one of his better positions. It is also possible they have Jamar backing up Urlacher as well given that his instincts are likely better than Hunters, and while neither are close to even an aging Urlacher as far as the amount of ground they can cover, I'd give the edge to Williams when it comes to the anticipation and diagnosis required out of the MLB in our schemes. If this is the case, even if you think Williams may be the "better player" it doesn't make much sense to shove him into the line up in a position they don't want him playing long term, when they have faith in Roach our possible SLB of the future.
What does everyone else think? Could Roach be the answer at SLB if Pisa doesn't make it back to the team?