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.

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