There's a lot of reasons to beat up on Jerry Angelo. One, off the top of my head, is how he looks at the wide receiver position, and who can ever forget at the end of the 2008 season with his "It all starts with the Quarterback" statement? He most likely had Peyton Manning on the mind when making that statement, but let's not forget that Manning had Marvin Harrison when he first arrived there and Bill Polian would later hook Manning up with Reggie Wayne who he took in the end of the 1st round in 2001. In addition, we also beat up on Angelo because of his philosophy on building the offensive line. Instead of investing mid round draft picks on OL, Angelo likes to sign aging OL and also hang on to linemen for a little too long.
While Angelo gets beat up for some issues with this team, he has done plenty of good things for this team. Yes, the obvious biggest one is the acquisition of QB Jay Cutler, giving the Bears its most talented QB possibly in franchise history. The other that seems to fly under the radar is how good Angelo is at crafting together Defensive Line talent.
Here's timeline look at how this defensive line was put together by Angelo
NT Anthony Adams: signed 4 year contract with Chicago (3/30/07). Signed through 2010
When San Francisco gave up on Adams, it was with the thought that he wasn't an ideal fit as a 3-4 NT. Jerry Angelo signed Adams to a 4 year contract to fill the NT void that was previously filled by the trouble Tank Johnson. Adams has been one of the most consistent defensive linemen on the roster, and figures to be a high priority re-signing once the labor issues are solved.
The Bears plucked a steal off the Bengals practice squad with DT Matt Toeaina. Toeaina filled in well at the 3 technique when Tommie Harris was struggling mightily at the position. Ideally Toeaina should be a NT in this scheme who can sometimes fill in at the 3 technique position.
DE Israel Idonije Signed 4-year contract with Bears (3/27/06)... Signed 2-year extension with Bears (5/29/06). SIGNED through 2011
Israel Idonije started his Bears career as a DT who would come in and give Tommie Harris a breather or pair up with Harris in passing situations. Idonije slimmed down from 290 to 270 to play Left DE and posted a career high in sacks with 8. Idonije should continue to pick up where he left off in the 2010 season.
DT Henry Melton: Drafted in the fourth round (105th overall) by the Bears in the 2009 NFL Draft... Agreed to a 4-year contract with Chicago (5/29/09). SIGNED through 2012
The Bears coaches seem to have always envisioned Melton as a pass rushing 3 technique even when he arrived to Chicago at 260 pounds. At a rumored 280 pounds last season, Melton made his presence felt in pass rush situations in the interior of the defense even though the stats might tell you otherwise. Now at 294 pounds, the coaches have high expectations for Melton, who should help fill the 3 technique void left by Harris.
DE Corey Wootton: 5/19/2010 Signed a four-year, $2.297 million contract.
Wootton earned more playing time towards the end of the season and made the most of it. Fans should expect him to get more playing time at Left DE this season. It will be interesting to see what a high work ethic guy like Wootton has done in the weight room this off-season.
DE Julius Peppers: Signed 6-year contract with Chicago (3/5/2010). SIGNED THROUGH 2015
What more can you say about arguably the best DE in the league? If he's not on this DL I would have never thought of this post. He's very capable of making the rest of the DL players around him better (see Israel Idonije) and we should continue to see him making the players around him better while also consistently making plays himself.
DT Stephen Paea: 2011 2nd round draft pick #53
1st round talent that slipped to the 2nd round because of a knee injury at the senior bowl, Paea will most likely be the starting 3 technique when the season starts and on passing downs will move over to NT to make room for Melton; which should give the Bears an added pass rush in the interior that they've been lacking for a couple years now. Paea is one of the main reasons why the Bears defensive interior line play should be much improved.
As much as I beat up on Jerry Angelo and deservedly so, I have to give credit when it's due. When it comes to building a defensive line, he knows what he's doing.