Linebacker Is the “Ghost Need” for the Bears

Bolshevik revolutionary and Marxist theorist Leon Trotsky once said “Old age is the most unexpected of things that can happen to a man.”

No one is calling for the Bears to draft a linebacker high in the draft.  That includes me.  But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a need.

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune continues his excellent positional analysis series with the Bears linebackers:

“While this doesn’t look like a need position, it is because [Brian] Urlacher, [Lance] Briggs and [Hunter] Hillenmeyer are the only linebackers under contract for next season.”

Its a shame the Bears don’t have high round draft picks to invest in every position on the field.  They seem to have a lot of needs to a team that just won their division.

This is an aging unit and its going to need an influx of youth soon.  Urlacher is 33, Briggs is 30 and, if they bring him back, Pisa Tinoisamoa will be 30 next season.  Biggs thinks that Urlacher has “enough spring in his legs to remain at a high level for a couple more seasons”.  I think so, too.  But I thought Brett Favre had another year in him after a wonderful performance in 2009.  Instead he went from old to too old in a snap.  And its worse for position players who rely more on their athleticism than the typical veteran quarterback.

I’ve even seen it in my own work.  One year a person is perfectly healthy and doing the job they’ve always done.  The next year they have 3 or 4 health problems, each building off of the last and each making the other worse.  Its a scary situation.

The fact that the Bears don’t have any youth here is largely due to the failures of past draft.  General Manager Jerry Angelo has invested in defensive lineman after defensive lineman – and rightfully so.  But the fact that he hasn’t hit on one in a very long time means that he can’t afford to stop drafting the position in favor of other needs.  Eventually the Bears are going to pay for his failures and it might well be here.

The guess here is that this need slides again in favor of more immediate problems.  But the linebacker position is one that we will want to keep an eye on.  Age isn’t something that always gradually shows up over time.  Instead it creeps up on you in the dark takes you from behind when you least expect it.

Roethlisberger Gets “Punched in the Nose” and Other Points of View


“‘Bring him back,’ Goodwin said Thursday. ‘The biggest thing about Olin is his leadership. I’ve been watching film on him the last few games because we didn’t know who we were going to face in the Super Bowl. Let me tell you, he can still play. All the things I saw him do when I was with the Bears, he can still do now. It’s a no-brainer to re-sign him, No. 1 as a player, but No. 2 as a leader.'”


“What has gotten the Packers to this point is good drafting, but not just that. It’s also solid player development. The Packers’ coaching staff prepares young players well, and then gives them opportunities.”

“When you see the Packers’ defense jog onto the field Sunday, rest assured they will be guided neither by statistical tendencies nor computer “readouts.” Their game plan will be the work of a man who literally wrote the book on this system, a man who sat at a desk last week with a pen and an bag of multicolored highlighters and wrote down his plan to help win a Super Bowl championship. Based solely on his own knowledge, instincts and a file of reports from every game he has coached, Capers will almost certainly make a call or two that the NFL has never seen.”

  • ESPN’s Sal Palatonio interviews B. J. Raji.  Sounds like the Packers are depending on Raji to dominate as the Steelers are hurting at center:

  • Jake Locker isn’t one of Mel Kiper‘s top 25 NFL prospects:

Nate Solder 6-9 315
Gabe Carimi 6-7 327
Tyron Smith 6-5 280
Anthony Castonzo 6-7 287
Derek Sherrod 6-6 305

One Final Thought

Sam Farmer at the Los Angeles Times quotes Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians on the troubles quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has faced:

“That happens to a lot of these guys, the young kids who come in and have success.  There’s a sense of entitlement. … It happens to all of us. Whether it’s someone who writes a bestseller, you look at yourself different. You feel pretty good about yourself.

“It’s the same thing as a coach. You win some ballgames, you feel pretty good about yourself. It’s different when that success kind of becomes who you are, and you stray away from your family and you roots and everything.

“It takes a punch in the nose to get you back.”