Trust will go over each position and see how the Bears did. We’ll look
at how the Bears finished in 2009, what they tried to do during the
offseason, and how well they executed -- and if they should have done
Hunter Hillenmeyer: Played in 14 games (started in 13) at both strongside linebacker and middle linebacker; made 65 tackles; had 2.5 sacks and one interception.
Nick Roach: Played in 16 games (started in 15) at both strongside linebacker and middle linebacker; made 50 tackles; had two sacks.Out:
Jamar Williams: Played in 16 games (started in three); was the primary back-up at both outside linebacker positions.2009 review: Eh, but it wasn’t entirely their fault.
The Bears' linebacker depth is on the outside -- entirely on the outside.
So when Brian Urlacher went down, the Bears robbed from the strongside to fill the hole. Neither Roach or Hillenmeyer are great Cover-2 middle linebackers. Hillenmeyer struggled with the covering of the deep middle; Roach struggled with setting up the defense.
Both went in and out of the middle, and whoever was left on the strongside struggled at times, as well. Neither is a particularly great starter, and the rest of the defense didn't put them in a particularly great situation.
The Bears blitzed 6+ guys more than all but two teams in the league; they were tenth in the league in the number of zone blitz. It's fair to say the Bears’ linebackers blitzed a fair number of times. The problem is neither of them are particularly good at it.
Of the three starting backers, the Bears would have liked to spend time hiding Roach and/or Hillenmeyer, letting the others make a majority of the plays. Last season, the situation didn’t lend itself to that.2010 offseason plan: Do less than nothing.
I was ahead of myself when I said the Bears did nothing at defensive tackle and middle linebacker. At those positions, the Bears are at least hoping the Tommie Harris and Urlacher are healthy and good this season. Here the Bears don’t even have aren't even hoping for anything.
The traded Jamar Williams to the Panthers. It cut some of their depth at outside linebacker, but they got help at safety.
At strongside linebacker, the Bears are just hoping Urlacher doesn’t get hurt, forcing one of these two to move to middle linebacker. We all saw how that turned out last season. On the strongside, both are serviceable if nothing else.Execution: Urlacher is still healthy, right?
They're going to re-try the 2009 plan: hide these two serviceable players at position with Urlacher and Lance Briggs.
If this season blows up, strongside linebacker isn’t going to be the reason. This is far from the Bears’ biggest problem.