Our whole defense wasn't special at all this year. I believe we can thank a rash of horrific injuries for that, and each position will get there due today and tomorrow before Free Agency starts. I am going to break up the Defense into three parts; Line, Linebackers, and Secondary. Right now let's look at our line.
The first thing we can say is that our Defensive Ends were great this year. Alex Brown started to make a stir about not starting at the beginning of the year, but eventually shut his mouth and let his game do the talking. He had a good year and finished strong at the end of the year (even had a INT against those dastardly Packers) when we were thin at the DT position and our Line wasn't playing to its potential. He recently signed a new contract and will apparently be a starter once again. Mark Anderson disappointed this year in his starting role and his production as a pass rusher dropped. He received two DNP's to end the season this year (I really can't remember why, I think he was banged up) and again, with Browns new contract it seems apparently that Anderson will go back to being the "energy" pass rusher off the bench. In any case, Adewale Ogunleye took the cake for best line performer this year. His number of solo tackles jumped from 28 to 53 this year, he had 9 sacks on the year, and he forced 6 fumbles this year marking the first time he forced more than one with the Bears. Israel Idonije is listed as a DE, but played DT for the majority of the games this year. All in all, our DE's did well this year, and with the return of Dan Bauzin forthcoming, I doubt Angelo will do anything else with this position in the draft or Free Agency.
However, I can't say the same thing about our DT's this year. Granted, we got nailed with losing Dusty Dvoracek to injury in the first game of the season, but the rest of the players just didn't get the job done. To add insult to injury Tommie Harris through what some local radio heads assumed was torn cartilage in his knee. He obviously wasn't Harris circa the first 7 games of 2006, but it was just hard to see him struggle and get double teamed out there when he was obviously hurting. Thankfully, he increased his production through all of this with 8 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. Harris was the lone glimmer of hope amongst our DT's. Antonio Garay didn't do much (only 5 tackles) before being shut down for the year. Anthony Adams only played in 11 games and clearly is not the answer at the position, although I believe he will be a serviceable backup. Then, Darwin Walker wasn't half the player he was advertised to be and has since gotten the boot. Finally, rounding off the position is Jimmy Kennedy and Matt Toeaina came on and helped us finish off the year, but weren't that great and I don't know what our plans for them are.
Our real hole is in the DT spot, for no other reason than security. I hope that Harris will be 100% this year because he certainly wasn't last year. I hope that Double D tearing a ligament against San Diego was a freak occurrence and that he is fully recovered. I know that is a lot of hoping, and that is why I believe this is a position we need to address in the draft.
As for the draft here are the first four names that I don't think we will get.
Sedrick Ellis and Glenn Dorsey - Wouldn't it be nice to pick up one of these two studs? It will never happen.
Kentwan Balmer and Pat Sims - Balmer is expected to go in the first, and Sims will probably be gone by our second round pick and I don't think we are going to go defensive with our second round pick anyway.
We have a lot more options in the later rounds, but I just don't know who in heavens name we would pick up. This is one of the times were I am very thankful to have Angelo as our GM. I am very confident he will be able to pick up a DT in the third or fourth round and that it will be a quality pick. It would be nice to get a freak like Ellis or Dorsey, but that's not going to happen unless we forsake the O-Line and trade up. The other option is the FA market, but I really don't know who will be available. It seems that most UFA's are going to stick with their teams and I haven't heard nay major rumblings. It looks like we will be sticking with the draft.
You would hope that our depth chart could look like this after the Draft and Free Agency.
DE: Alex Brown, Mark Anderson
DT: Dusty Dvoracek, Anthony Adams, Free Agent
DT: Tommie Harris, Antonio Garay, Draft Pick
DE: Adewale Ogunleye, Dan Bauzin, Israel Idonije
To close, our Ends seem set and our Tackles need help or health serum, whichever we can get to them first. I like Double D and Harris, but if one of them goes down we are in big trouble. I am thankful for Garay and Adams, but I just think that we need more help or a young guy waiting in the wings. We have the potential to have a great line and I am confident that our Ends, Harris, and Double D will be fine, but we just can't afford to lose another season because we pinned our hopes on a player who then goes down. Let me know if I missed any potential Free Agents or Draftees and come back tomorrow for the review of Linebackers and our Secondary.