Brad Biggs and the Chicago Tribune addresses the tackle position in his latest positional analysis, this time of the defensive line:
The talk of Peppers’ arrival impacting Tommie Harris was just that — talk. Harris was limited to six starts as Matt Toeaina took over the role for the majority of the season. At 27, he’s not the same player he once was and he won’t be again. But just as the former first-round draft pick did a year ago, he showed signs of being a disruptive force down the stretch.
The problem is, of course, that as Harris got his chance to come on late in the season because Toeaina wore down. This appears to be a problem with Toeania as it has happened virtually every year he’s played for the Bears. He starts with a strong training camp and plays well early. But he tends to disappear as the season wears on.
Biggs makes the point that Henry Melton might take a big leap next year at this position. He envisions a competition between him and Toeania for the starting position. But I’m not so sure I’m depend upon either of these guys doing the job. Melton did show flashes this year and was a contributor. But if I’m the Bears, I’m not holding my breath waiting for him to show more. He may well be as good as he’s going to get and “situational pass rusher” might be his MO.
Biggs calls the the position of “medium priority shading toward low”. I will disagree and put it higher on the list, perhaps just below offensive line. Israel Idonije did a reasonable job taking advantage of the attention Julius Peppers drew at the opposite defensive end. But the three technique tackle is still a central position in the Bears defense. They may, once again, be looking for defensive linemen.