Does Lovie now have a legit defense in Chicago?
After the Bears revamped the safety position over the last week, is it safe to say that head coach Lovie Smith now has a legit and winning defense in Chicago?
The deal the Bears made for Panthers’ safety Chris Harris isn’t sexy, but it is a move that had to be made. The same can be said for what Lovie and GM Jerry Angelo did last weekend in the draft when they took Florida safety Major Wright off of the board at No. 75 — hopefully filling a need in the deep middle of the field.
Making the move to get Harris was about as good as it will get for this team right now, as was grabbing Wright — the best safety prospect on the board at the time — because they are both upgrades over the current crop of safeties.
The same group that produced only one turnover in ’09. That’s bad football.
We know that Chicago is a Tampa 2 football team, but the Bears also do play a wide variety of single-high safety defenses (think free safety in the middle of the field: Cover 1, Cover 3, zone blitzes). Wright has to be able to step in as a rookie, drop to the middle of the field in those schemes and drive on the football. And, make plays when he gets there.
As for Harris, he should project to slide into the strong safety spot. He is physical enough and has proven to make plays in his career. A guy that can handle the run fits that are required in Smith’s defense, as well as pressing a TE at the line of scrimmage and playing his role when the Bears do play their core Cover 2 calls.
It sounds good and looks good on paper — in late April. But, is it good enough to make this defense competitive against Green Bay, Minnesota and Detroit? A loaded division when you look at the QBs and the opposing offenses that the Bears will face: Rodgers, Favre, Stafford and a variety of explosive weapons.
According to the Bears’ Lance Briggs, the Harris upgrade is big. The LB recently told Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune following the addition of the Carolina safety, “Now I can envision the Chicago Bears as a championship-contending team.”
We're not going to start making predictions at this point of the off-season, but I do think that the upgrades the Bears made in the last week at the safety position are big enough to help this defense start making plays again. And, when Lovie’s defense is playing good football we see those turnovers, those game changing plays and a defense that can flip the field in any situation. That is what we are used to seeing from the Bears on defense.
Sure, just like any other team in the league, the rest of the big name players—Tommie Harris, Brian Urlacher, Briggs and the monster investment in Julius Peppers—have to play a big role on Sundays.
But, the issue going into last week was specifically the safety position. And, for now, that seems to be settled in Chicago. Time to call them legit?
As close as it is going to get.
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