Defensive Observations: Bears' Ends Take Advantage of Matchup

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

We go through some of our leftover notes from Thursday night's game on the defensive side, discussing the defense's impact on special teams as well as the quality of the ends.

  • In much the same way the offensive line performed well, so did the defensive line. It was a matchup they should have won, and they did, with the Chargers having one of the offensive lines in the league that was worse than the Bears last year by some measures (like sacks allowed). But what's interesting to note from that matchup is that while Corey Wootton took down D.J. Fluker to pick up a sack, Shea McClellin got his on an actual NFL left tackle in Max Starks, who's been doing this for 9 years as the left tackle of the Steelers and started every game he's played in since 2009. Not a Pro-Bowl tackle, no, but a guy that's seen a lot in this league. That doesn't mean McClellin is going to be an MVP this year, but let me ask something...
  • If the Bears came out in week 1 with McClellin at RDE and Wootton at LDE, as they are today, would you be okay with that? Wootton anchors a little better against the run than McClellin does, and he can pass-rush his way past enough right tackles; and if McClellin's a "pass-rush specialist," why not have him in the pass-rush spot? You'd probably say no, that that's not good enough personnel right now, but I'm not sure that I can't see it out of place on too many teams. Not an elite unit, but probably effective enough, particularly with a pocket-crashing defensive tackle.
  • If Jonathan Bostic came out in Week 1 against the Bengals as the starting middle linebacker, I wouldn't be upset. There are still enough good, talented players on the roster to overcome any growing pains Bostic would have, but Bostic's also going to be just fine as soon as he starts recognizing play-action.
  • ... Make that "as soon as the entire linebacking corps recognizes play-action."
  • I feel like I'm really going to enjoy watching Chris Conte play safety this year. Speaking of safeties, anybody seen Brandon Hardin get an opportunity lately? I like him, but I fear he may be on the outside looking in.
  • And speaking of defensive backs in general, there may not be much turnover on the unit at all. Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings aren't going anywhere, Zackary Bowman may well stay as a reserve along with Isaiah Frey (plus Bowman's role on specials), and Sherrick McManis likewise has a role on specials. And of course Anthony Walters and Craig Steltz are special teams mainstays.
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