Chicago Sun-Times

Manning on the move again

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Danieal Manning has been moved to strong safety in the wake of the injury that ended Mike Brown's season.

This marks the third move for Manning since the end of the preseason. He will fill in instead of rookie Craig Steltz starting but Steltz is expected to play a big role, coming in in the nickel package with Manning moving to nickel.

It's interesting because Manning is best suited for free safety and Kevin Payne, the listed starter at free safety, better suited to play in the box.

Keep an eye on this.

Also, Jason Davis will remain the starter at fullback although Jason McKie is active for the first time after missing four games with a pulled quad muscle.

Newly signed safety Cameron Worrell will be active and will play on special teams.

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Doesn't make sense to me, but what do I know, I'm just a fan. I am glad they realized that Steltz is not good.

C'mon Bears

I think they wanted Manning in the box on running downs for his blitzing ability from the edge, and Payne was more effective in pass defense as the free safety early this year.

Manning appears to be a solid nickel back, and has been our best blitzer off the edge, so of course let's make him a safety again, and put him in the position he doesn't know. They keep saying the safeties are interchangeable in this defense, but I do not believe that is the case. If you would have put Payne in the box as strong safety, then you have more speed deep to prevent some of these big plays we keep giving up. When you look at the 40 yard TD to Andre Johnson, Tillman gave him up to the safety, but clearly Manning thought his responsibility was underneath. That kind of breakdown is what happens when a guy spends the whole year playing one position, and all of a sudden is put in position to play a spot he hasn't practiced at all year, until Mike Brown goes down. Payne may not have been able to cover Johnson either, but he would have not blown the assignment (or at least that's what you hope from a starter).

This coaching staff can talk all they want about getting the best 11 guys on the field, but they are not doing the job when it comes to putting their players in a position to succeed. They need some serious evaluations of their developmental skills when it comes to improving the level of play on our ridiculously overpaid defense. Tillman was obviously hurting as the year went on, and could barely use his arm the last three weeks. So why have him in there? McBride, Graham, and Manning could have been your 3 CBs, and the falloff in play would not have been much worse. Because of his limitations, Tillman had to give up on jamming the receiver, and he is not fast enough to run with guys like Johnson, Greg Jennings, and other speedy receivers, which showed in our pass defense. Roach was not playing well at all, and looked like he was just throwing himself into the fray most of the time. Why not try Jamar Williams and see if he could do better? Maybe Steve Slaton, all 190 lbs of him, would not have been gashing our defense left and right.

It is obvious we are limited talent-wise at the safety position, strong side linebacker, and on the defensive line. Outside of Alex Brown, who did his usual yeoman's work all season long, did anyone carry their weight? Izzy played well, and Harrison and Adams were decent, but Ogunleye, Anderson, and Harris all were below the level we are accustomed to seeing. I would not be surprised to see Ogun get released in the offseason, and the Bears drafting 2-3 DEs in the upcoming draft, including our first rounder. Harrison, Harris, Idonije, Adams, and Toeaina will probably be our rotation next year, as they can't waste any more time on Dvoracek, but we need to be able to generate more pressure from the front 4, so we can devote more bodies to coverage, where we were absolutely slaughtered this year. Manning could be an effective free safety, if they commit to playing him there all year. Vasher may be better suited to playing the nickel next year, and leave Graham and Tillman on the outside to be more physical on the line of scrimmage with receivers. With a better pass rush, we can play more man on the outside with a zone underneath.

This coaching staff needs to change their approach, but first they need to fix the problems. And sad to say, but the problems reside mostly in the front 4. They have to be a lot better before this defense will be any more than a bad impersonation of their former selves....We would be in the playoffs if not for the leads surrendered by the defense in Carolina, Tampa, Atlanta, and Houston. We could have conceivably been 13-3 if they had showed up. The offense was decent (for our standards) and the special teams did great without TD returns from Hester. The weak link just happens to be where we spent all the money....

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on December 28, 2008 11:00 AM.

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