Chicago Sun-Times

Ruben Brown: Bears are close, issues lie on defense

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TAMPA--Ruben Brown is making the rounds on radio row this morning before Super Bowl media day kicks off at Raymond James Stadium, the circus that tops all other sports gatherings when it comes to high-wire acts and freak shows, and a little football too.

Brown, a nine-time Pro Bowl performer, is mulling over putting together a retirement party in Chicago in the coming months. He'd like to keep playing but will be 37 and doesn't think any team is going to want to bring him in. So, he's dabbling on the media side.

We asked Brown the question that is pressing from a Bears' angle--are the Bears really close at 9-7 with the same record as the NFC Champion Arizona Cardinals?

"I do like the 9-7 record because if you watch that team, that team was better than 9-7,'' Brown said. "Even though the final record was what it was, and the Bears were right there, one more win they're in the playoffs. This is the thing when you look at the Cardinals, when you get in the playoffs, anything can happen. It's anybody's ballgame. Homefield advantage isn't always homefield advantage. Same thing happened to us in 2005. Carolina came in and we had beaten them during the year. It didn't matter. Chicago is promising.''

One distinct difference between franchises is the Cardinals have a two-time MVP at quarterback in Kurt Warner. The Bears are still trying to find their way with Kyle Orton, who they have confidence will take a major step forward in his third full season as a starter.

"Orton is as good as they can get right now,'' Brown said. "I'm not an Orton hater. I know there are a lot of other teams that wish they had a player like Orton to manage their team, an example is Buffalo, don't turn it over and hand it off to our stud running back and let those guys carry the load with the defense. And that's what we're talking about. Let's face it, we're never talking about how great the quarterback is in Chicago not unless we're talking about Sid Luckman. What we're really talking about is the running game and the defense and the defense didn't step up.

"Whether it is the D-line not producing enough pressure on the quarterback or just the inconsistent play all around for the unit because when that group was humming, they were humming. They were scaring everybody out of their socks when they walked on the field. Now, they have shown a vulnerable side. Injuries have caused that and just time. They're not a young team. But with the draft if they can get some help on the line, I'll tell you if they can get pressure on the quarterback, that defense is back."

And if the defense is back, Brown believes the Bears will be back in contention.

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No way is Rueben standing up for the Offense lol
But he is underscoring the Dline, which I believe Creighton just said we had 6 Dlinemen.....
Lets hope Rod and Sapp can make a difference.
Ruben is saying if we draft Dline? But we have drafted Dline recently havent we?

I could believe in Orton a lot more if he was more accurate. Bill Walsh maintained the most important attribute for a QB was accuracy, followed by athleticism and intelligence. Not a big arm. Kyle is athletic enough, he can feel the rush (unlike Grossman). I think he's smart. But I saw him miss wide open receivers way too much. You can't justify paying big bucks on the market for a big time receiver if a QB can't find him. That's the step he's got to take next year. Or find someone else. The clock is ticking.

Ruben Brown is right, the Bears are close, and yes, the issues do lie on defense, namely the front four. This is key for Chicago this season, the front four simply needs to play a whole lot better than last season. I'm not gonna sit here and pretend I know what Jerry Angelo is thinking, but with the house cleaning Angelo did with the entire defensive coaching staff, pretty much shows Angelo also thinks things gotta get better on defense. And yes, I realize Angelo didn't fire Bob Babich, but he did basically demote him. Also, Babich did deserve to get fired along with the rest of the defensive coaching staff, but he is, and has proved in the past that he can be, a pretty good linebackers coach, so he was worth keeping around for that position.

The key for Chicago this season is simple, to quote the great Bill Cowher, "just sack the quarterback!" Hopefully with the recent hiring of defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, Chicago will get back on track to being a better pass rushing front four. Personnel wise, I don't know what, or if any, moves Angelo is gonna make to the Bears front four. Is Angelo gonna sign a free agent like Ravens rush linebacker/defensive end Terrell Suggs, or maybe Carolina's Julius Peppers? Only time will tell. Will Angelo draft an end, the problem with drafting one is simple, its not a good idea to expect a draft pick to fix a problem area right off the bat, also, there might not be a good pass rush end available at #18 when the Bears pick. I do expect Angelo to draft a pass rushing specialist during some point of the draft however. Ultimately, Angelo will probably have to live or die with his own personnel.

My hopes are this, defensive ends Mark Anderson and Adewale Ogunleye have both proved in the past that they have the ability to get to the quarterback, so it isn't like defensive line coach Rod Marinelli is gonna have to develop them, he is simply gonna have to get them back to being pass rushers, like they were in the past. I think Marinelli can do this. Also, Tommie Harris was slow early on, but as the season went on, the better Harris played. This shows me one thing, his knee got better as the year went on, so there is no reason to think with an off-season of rest, he won't be good to go for 2009. Oh yeah, Alex Brown isn't a great pass rusher, but he is a pretty good overall defensive end, Marinelli should also improve his game. I think the Bears will be a good team next season GO BEARS!!

I agree that the Bears are much better than their record would indicate. So why didn't Lovie step in and start calling the defense during the season when it was apparent they had a good shot at making the playoffs. Like Ruben said, once you're in, anything can happen in a game. Look at the Cardinals! The best teams don't always win the game. I call it poor management on his part because of his relationship with Babich. No matter how much the players like their head coach, they like winning better and I think they've lost respect for his judgement regarding what's best for the team. You could see it on the players faces after countless 3rd and long completions throughout the season. The good news is they have next season to correct it. The bad news is that if history repeats itself they won't. Let's hope they will. Go Bears!

RB is real pro. Lets see if he would come back. Angelo has got it all figured out though....not. He is a real dandy. Draft needs: Rd 1 OT....again....cant have enough good lineman.
Rd 2 DE....Not a Dan Bazuin!!!
Rd 3 WR....Not a dave Terrell
Rd 4 Safety or LB
rd 6 New coach
Rd 7 New GM

Free agents: New DEf coord......and

I feel that with the additions to the coaching staff, a few upgrades on the D and some support for Orton this team will thrive in 2009. I believe that they are on the cusp of something great if we do attack free agency and bring in some playmakers. I would like to see a trade for an established receiver and see them go after a safety via free agency. Then they can address the OL and DE positions and add another receiver and safety as well through the draft.


Good to hear from Ruben and that he still has a pulse on what's going on with the team. I also think the defense needs to pick it up, pass rush is important, but an additional playmaker on that side of the ball period would improve the team. From what I see, the Strongside LB spot may be able to be filled at 18, Laurinitis seems to be slipping some, and could be there for the BEARS, also could look at Maybin from Penn St. at that spot also, I know Haynes was a bust, but this kid tore up SC in the Rose Bowl and is a playmaker. That was Ruben's point, the fear factor on that side of the ball is not there right now, this is what we need, a "hitter" who would make people think about playing against the BEARS again. We also might look at the kid from So. Miss in round three, McRath, who could also provide the ability to create turnovers on defense.


Boy that was insightful... not.

Everything is not right in Bearland but your comments are what I expect from the guy down at the end of the bar. Or are you at the 21st Century virtual bar.

Finally a realistic, yet positive set of comments! Love it. Kevin, I think you're right on with your optimism for Marinelli and the line. People seem to think Ogun is over the hill, but he put together a really nice season in '07, and I believe hes got 2-3 more solid seasons ahead of him. Harris pulled his head out and had a good 2nd half of the season, so I look for that to improve under Marinelli as well as Mark Anderson returning to form.

chitownbear points out that Laurinitis could be there at 18, and I've noticed him slipping in the mock drafts as well. Of course, we'll have to wait until after the combine to know more, but I'd love to grab a MLB that can run. If we have the luxury of moving Urlacher to SLB, I believe he could have 3 more pro-bowls before he hangs up the cleats.

You make some good points Kevin, Anderson is relatively young and can still develope.
I agree with bearmaniac that Lovie should have stepped in on Babich and maybe we would have won a couple of those games our D lost in the 4th Q's.

DT's recent drafts
Harrison 2008
Dvoracek 2006
Harris 2004
Johnson 2004
Scott 2003
LaFavor 2003

I did not include Defensive Ends.

Somethings Mr. Brown should know.
Our awsome running game, was ranked 24th in the NFL, so thats not exactly a dominant running game. The Bears were kept in games all season by special teams and a short field. The offense and defense were both miserable. Yet once again Bear fans ignore the special teams and talk about a bad offense and a bad defense.

Can you really hand the ball off to Forte anymore? He did his job no doubt about that, but the run game is still weak. Brown missed one major point when talking about the offense. He was dead on when he said Orton was a game manager but he missed the fact that he and the Bears are putting the entire offense on Forte's shoulders. You can't just put it all on one guys shoulders and hope to win every game that way.

Randy actually I said the Bears have six DT's, they have a total of 10 defensive linemen.

Did Harris really get much better as the season went on?
Lets start with the Rams game.
Rams, Harris had 2 sacks and good had two sacks. Remember when I said Goon plays well when Harris has a good game. Then again it's the Rams.

Then the Vikings game, Bears D gave up almost 400 yards of offense. Harris had a sack, however the Vikings give up a ton of sacks. 45 this year. Harris had a sack against the vikes in the previous game.

Then came the Jags and there busted up OLine. Harris had 1 tackle and no sacks. Against a team that let there QB get hit more than any team this year.

Then came the Saints. 0 Sacks for Harris, 1 for Alex Brown, who if any player was the one who raised his level of play.

Then Came the GB game again 0 Sacks. People were actually booing the team in the first half. Again did not look impressive. Alex Brown again came up big, Harris not so much.

Then Came Houston Harris no sacks team gave up 455 yards of offense.

I think the Bears defense actually got worse as the season went on not better.

Oh and guys from what I understand Lovie was making calls later in the season. He said so himself. So he did step in, he may have even taken over in Houston.

As for Rod M. While he did coach the line he never called the plays. That was Kiffin, and Culpepper who called all the stunts while he was there. Rod, Dungy, Sapp, and Kiffin all credited Culpepper greatly for the lines success. Even with the addition of Rice the defense was never as good as it was after Culpepper left. Will see if he can duplicate that success even though he struggled to do it with the Lions who had 3 of his hand picked Tampa players starting on that line which was being coached by his hand picked DC who he wanted to bring here. Can anyone name all the great DE's he has developed? Even though he was given multiple first round picks too coach up along with other high level draft picks. The answer is Zero.

The Bears were projected to win 4 games this year and did much better than that. They also lost a few games that they should have won. Not the atlanta game though. They should have lost that one.
I agree that JA should choose another Offensive tackle in the first round this year. Emphasize the run and pound the ball and own the clock. I hated to see the poor management of Rex because I do feel he is talented. Too bad he was a first round pick and had a few seasons lost due to injuries. I feel the Bears threw alot on his shoulders by dumping his receivers and T. Jones and expecting him to carry the offense and then dumping him instead of supplying him talent. I remember when he came in for Orton at the end of '05.
You could see the defenses change their approach because he was more of a threat to burn them compared to Kyle.
If the Bears were to draft a WR early they would have to move him to RB so Orton could get him the ball. I don't see alot of criticism towards the FB who can't get one friggin yard when needed and also doesn't blow hole out either. Mckie is not even a receiving threat which at least would add another dimension to the offense(coordinator or player?).
I agree Kyle should be the QB now, so zip it to all who feel the need to respond and dump on Rex's play. The organization should not pull the rug out from underneath another QB. It would be nice if he could develop into a guy that can see a second or third option and only time will tell.

Creighton, when I said, "Tommie Harris got better as the year went on," this is what I meant. During the first two months of the season, Sept & Oct, Tommie Harris had 6 tckls and 1 sack. During the second half of the season, Nov & Dec, Tommie Harris had 31 tckls and 4 sacks, so as you can see, Tommie Harris play clearly got better as the season went on. Tommie Harris has never put up pretty stats to begin with, the 5 sacks Harris got this season were actually the second most he has ever got during his entire career, 8 sacks was the most Harris ever got during a season. Part of the reason Harris never put up big numbers is simple, Harris is constantly facing a double team. Tommie Harris main job is to be disruptive, and during the second half of the season, he was. Tommie Harris is a three time pro bowler, and again, has never put up pretty stats, this shows the rest of the league also realizes Harris faces a constant double team, but is still disruptive. Also, Harris actually was a pro bowl alternate this season, this is also proof Harris play got better as the year went on. Its pretty obvious Harris made it to the pro bowl as an alternate with his play late in the season.

Coming off major knee surgery going into the season, you couldn't really expect much from Harris this season anyways. Tommie Harris started out slow, but went out playing some pretty good football, as you can see from his stat comparison of early season to late season, and the pro bowl invite as an alternate. The way Harris played better as the season went on, and being a year removed from the knee surgery with an off-season of rest, Tommie Harris should be good to go for the 2009 season GO BEARS!!

You are all wrong.
Ruben is hoping to play another year. He isn't going to rock the boat. Therefore, you can't believe in anything he is saying.

The Bears need pressure on the quarterback, the Cover Two demands that. They also need safetys that are disciplined enough to not get burned deep and have the speed and power to reach the line of scrimmage on runs. As for the offense, the line needs to get some quality youth, they need a possesion receiver that can seperate from the defender and a backup running back with some agility that can catch and run. Besides using the draft, Reggie Williams could be one free agent to look at and for the running backs look at Maurice Morris or Jesse Chatman.

If the Bears are close to anything, it's falling back to being a laughingstock again. Lovie Smith's conservative, timid attitude has permeated the team to the point where even their defense now sucks. No offense, no defense, exactly how are they close to being a contending team? Just because Reuben Brown was a great player doesn't mean he's a good analyst. The Bears' problems are many and deep seated, and it will likely take years to fix them, IF ANYONE WERE EVEN TRYING TO DO SO. The fix should start with a new owner.

The Bears organization is a joke from the GM on down the line...

and why no matter who is on the team...they don't have shot

They'll be closer to the bottom of the division; that's all

Tommie Harris did not impress this year. When he played well he seemed to do so against inferior competition. I remember more than one time when it was a clear 3rd and long passing situation, Tommie wasn't even making an effort to get to the QB, rather playing the run instead, I have it on tape.

The Bears D did well against the run for most of the year because it was always emphasized in their style of play but the pass rush was truly pathetic, it seemed the D was always playing the run and could not generate pressure even when they did blitz the QB, which they did often. A tremendous pass rush will solve many an problem on D and make the D backs look special when they may not be so special.
I like the Tillman to safety idea, Manning at nickel with Graham and Vasher at corner, Payne at strong safety. We have bowman and McBride as relief at the corner and can draft some developmental talent at safety and DB in the later rounds.

I do think that Marinelli will bring the pass rush back to Chicago, I think he will be able to motivate and develop Harris, Goon and Anderson lets hope so anyway. Creighton, give marinelli a break and lets see if he can develop talent with Anderson et al.

For the #18 draft pick a "ferocious Linebacker" talent with speed should be available from (USC, Ohio State etc) as well as a good quality Right tackle. My choice would be to get a truly great linebacker and draft a great Offensive Guard in round two maybe Duke Robinson would be around, at least some of the drafts say he might be available in the mid 30's so the Bears may have to move up and trade. Keep St.Claire for a couple of years, Tait has a year left and the line would be pretty solid. Guard to me seems to be the biggest need for the line right now. But picking guard in round 1 seems to soon for the talent available, that will most likely go in round two and beyond.

I think,safety, CB, FB and Wideout based on graded best available athlete talent should be rounds three moving on. I do not see a QB getting picked this year unless someone decent makes it to round two like Sanchez from USC.

If the Bears get serious and get a decent wideout in free agency or by trade, such as Housh or Boldin and concentrate on the above ideas, its at least the playoffs and who knows maybe even to the big dance.

Go Bears

Chris Harris sure would look good on the roster.


Yes he would. But the draft pick we got for him turned into Zack Bowman, who just might develop into something. His only game for us he played well but it is still too early to say Bowman will become a factor on Defense. So yes having C. Harris back there would be nice.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on January 27, 2009 7:38 AM.

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