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Bears draft preview: Need No. 4 Defensive end

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Need No. 4--Defensive end

Players on roster

DE Alex Brown (signed through 2011)
DE Adewale Ogunleye (2009)
DE Mark Anderson (2009)
DE Israel Idonije (2009)
DE Ervin Baldwin (2011)
DE Joe Clermond (2010)


If the 2010 draft was three days away, you could be looking at the No. 1 need for the club. The plan is for new defensive line coach Rod Marinelli to have a major impact on the players he's inheriting. That won't do the Bears a lot of good if three of the top four ends are elsewhere after this season. Marinelli believes he has a player who is ready to take a big step in Brown, and that would be worth seeing. You could make a case he has been the most consistent player on the defense over the last several seasons, even during the ill-planned 2007 season when Lovie Smith and Bob Babich put Anderson where he was least effective, in the starting lineup. Brown is a solid two-way player and if Marinelli can have an impact on his pass-rushing ability, right end will not be a need spot for another few years. But as Smith says, you can never have enough players who can pressure the quarterback.

Ogunleye figures to be primed for a big season. The last time he had the hint of a deal hanging in front of him, he was spectacular in recording 15 sacks with Miami in 2003. If healthy, there's no reason to believe Ogunleye cannot reach 12 sacks in 2009. He's reached double-digits just once with the Bears, getting 10 in 2005. He leads the team with 35 1/2 since arriving in 2004. He will turn 32 in August and with another big season he could set himself up for another pay day, although it's unlikely he'll be in position to cash in like he did when the Dolphins shipped him here. Anderson is the mystery player for Marinelli. After his 12-sack rookie season in 2006, he's failed to be a consistent rusher off the edge. Stats are not the only indicator. Anderson just hasn't been the same guy. He's still young and healthy enough to regain his form and if he does, perhaps the Bears target him for a contract extension. Of course, they'd have the right to place the franchise tag on him but that can be a super-expensive proposition at the position. Look no further than Julius Peppers for evidence. The versatile Idonije has shed weight to move back outside and will be a solid contributor. Baldwin will have to distinguish himself to make the roster and Clermond figures to be a camp body right now. As general manager Jerry Angelo pointed out Tuesday, the Bears have no problem going into 2009 the way their line is constituted right now. "When we have our talks throughout we have to cover all of our bases,'' Angelo said. "[Defensive end] has come up. We do like our defensive line. If we did nothing to our defensive line this year we feel good going into '09 that we're going to have a pretty good front just with our present players. But that does come into equation and we'll see on draft day. We've done all of the defensive linemen like we do every year. I've always said it, we treat them like quarterbacks and if the right one is there at the right round, we'll pull the trigger.''

Who the Bears have been looking at

The Bears brought a couple of interesting prospects for the later rounds in to Halas Hall for official visits--Texas' Henry Melton and Rutgers' Jamaal Westerman. Melton is a former fullback who outgrew that position. He's very raw but has some great tools to work with and could be the kind of project that excites the Bears as a late-round option. Westerman is undersized, like the Bears like them here, and is explosive off the ball.

Coming Thursday: Free safety.

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Alex Brown is without a doubt the best defensive end Jerry Angelo has ever drafted for the Bears. Angelo recognized this by giving Alex Brown an extension last off-season. Pass rushing has never been one of Browns strong suits, but he does everything else pretty good. The Bears needs a third down pass rushing specialist. Mark Anderson will get another chance to become that player, hopefully new line coach Rod Marinelli can get Anderson back to his rookie form when he had 12 sacks as a third down pass rushing specialist. The fact Brown is locked up for three more seasons, and the Bears seem to think Marinelli will help Anderson get back to form, are a couple reasons why I think the Bears will target a player that can play left end this weekend.

If Adewale Ogunleye can get back to being a double digit sack guy, I do look for the Bears to extend him next off-season. You throw in Marinelli, on top of the fact its a contract year for Ogunleye, and he just might do it. Chicago also has second year player Ervin Baldwin at left end. After Angelo caught wind that the Chiefs were gonna snag Baldwin off of the Bears practice squad, he moved him to the 53-man roster. I think Angelo likes Baldwin, he'll be one to keep an eye on during the pre-season. If Baldwin can establish himself during the pre-season and make the 53-man roster, he might have a future as the Bears starting left end going into the 2010 season.

Draft wise, if there is a major run on receivers in the second, Angelo could opt to go with the best player available, and that player could be Utah defensive end Paul Kruger. The 6-5 265lb end has a high motor and is an effective bull rusher. He's also athletic enough to drop back in coverage. A late round player Chicago could target is Eastern Illinois Pierre Walters, he has nise size at 6-4 269lbs, and has a knack for getting to the QB, Chicago could land him in the 6th-7th round. It should be interesting GO BEARS!!

A very under-tracked stat (couldn't even find it anywhere) is tipped balls at the line of scrimmage by defensive lineman. Essentially, it's as important as a pass break-up by DB and often leads to interceptions. Alex Brown is very, very good at that along with Izzy who is 7 feet 11 inches tall.

What's the old saying? If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck...

I am skeptical that Alex Brown can "break out" this season. I don't see him as a 10 sack guy. The last time he got 10 sacks or better was 2001, at Florida. He is a solid 3 down end, and if Marinelli can turn him into a 10 sack guy, I will be absolutely shocked and impressed. That would be the first time I can remember that we actually developed a player into more than he could become on his own. Marinelli has the rep of being a great position coach, so if anyone can do it, he can, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Ogunleye is playing for his last contract, so there is potential there of returning to form and getting double digits. He needs to pick up a few new moves, as his "15 yard arc" combined with his "slam right into the tackle and get stonewalled" moves are not getting it done. I would be more inclined to believe that he can get back to 10 sacks than to think that Brown can all of a sudden get to that level.

Anderson is playing for his professional life this season. If there is anything there, it needs to come out this year. He did it before, and he needs to do it again.

Izzy is solid, and is good for 3-4 sacks, and solid run defense on the left side. Baldwin and Clermond are going to be camp bodies, and should probably not be on the roster come September.

My hope is that we pull a DE out of the draft this year, and hopefully someone who doesn't end up on the practice squad, or languishing on the inactive list. If Michael Johnson or Connor Barwin are there at 49 (assuming the top WRs are gone, and that we don't view Massaquoi as a #49 type player), I think we have to consider both of them as great value picks at that spot. Getting a freak like Johnson into Marinelli's house of torture might be the incentive he needs to get some consistency in his game. He has the potential to be Julius Peppers reincarnated, which is why I think Carolina will trade Peppers before the draft starts and draft Johnson with the first rounder they get for Julius. If we take the WR at 49, then guys like Melton, Westerman, Pierre Walters, the kid from EIU (hopefully he will pan out so we can stop having to point to Romo as the only player from my alma mater to be playing in the NFL), and other later round options.

I would do backflips if we get 30 sacks out of the DE position this year. I just don't see how our current crop will pull that off. If they do, I will hail Marinelli as a miracle-worker.

The other thing that will help the DE group is better play out of the DTs. Tommie needs to stay healthy, and the rest of the group needs to step it up a lot.

mel jr.

Look at PD (passes defended). You cannot tell if it was at the line or if he dropped back in coverage but generally it's a ball-batted at the line when you see numbers for defensive lineman.

They should look at Iowa DT Mitch King he has a great motor and caused hell for all his Big10 opponents.

I don't understand why everyone is so excited about Marinelli coaching the D-Line. Forget what he did with Tampa, they had Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice who were great players and would have been (Rice already was before he got there) great no matter who coached them. What player on Detroit did Marinelli make better? The answer is NOBODY. They had the worst defence in the league. The only star he had was Rogers and he got nothing out of him. I am baffled how fans and the Bears organization believe that Marinelli is a great coach and that the D-Line will get better. The only way our D-Line plays better is if Harris is healthy, if not, they will disappoint again.


Well, the first thing you need to understand is this: Head Coaches do not coach the players individually like a position coach will. The difference between the duties of a head coach and a D-line coach are so great that it boggle my mind why anyone would think that being a bad head coach has anything whatsoever to do with whether someone is a good position coach.

Secondly, you need to look at the organization involved. I mean really, we're talking about the Lions here. And not just your ordinary pathetic Lions, but a Lions organization after many years of pathetic leadership by Matt Millen. Trust me, even Bill Walsh would have looked bad on that team.

Lastly, after forgetting about how Marinelli did on the Lions (which is exactly what you should do), realize that he was regarded as one of the top D-line coaches before he got the head coaching job. Everyone says that he had Sapp and Rice and therefore, it was the players, and not the coach that should get all the credit. But, Sapp was considered a problem child coming out of college (rumors of a failed drug test), and anyone can see that he would be a handful to coach. And Rice improved after reaching Tampa.

That being said, a coach can only help a player reach his potential. They can't make diamonds out of mud. Which is why it is often difficult to tell who the good coaches really are. But again, all you can ask of a coach is that he gets the best out of his players (both on and off the field). Can anyone argue that Tampa's line would have been better with a "better" D-line coach?

Donny, congratulations. I welcome you to an exclusive club consisting of Creighton, myself and Da Coach, in which we ask questions and remain skeptical when we see BS; regardless of what the majority thinks. I too am baffled how all these people believe Marinelli will skip into town and work miracles. We need better players to fix the defense, not a position coach.

"...realize that he [Marinelli]was regarded as one of the top D-line coaches before he got the head coaching job." -MetroJoe

Key word: regarded. You mention Sapp and Rice MetroJoe, but what about all the other first and second round d-line talent that never panned out? The Bucs used a lot of high draft picks during Marinelli's tenure and when we talk about the line the only great player you can reference is Sapp? One guy!? That's impressive to some of you???

Rice was defensve ROTY before the Bucs acquired him. I think he was just fine before Marinelli "coached him up."

Let's stop being delusional. Or will Lance Briggs suffer now that Lloyd Lee is gone?

MetroJoe: "And Rice improved after reaching Tampa."

That is false ... see the link below for Marinelli's tenure with Tampa as highlighted by myself and Creighton.

Metrojoe, have you ever seen what happens when you have a dline with a star on it, and then you add another star. They both tend to get better because now 1 of them will be playing one on one. Tampa was loaded with studs. Proven fact about Rod, he was given three first round picks at DE and never developed 1 of them into anything special. Why do you think they had to get Rice? Answer that question he was given ample picks for the DE position and yet they still needed to sign Rice? If he is so great at developing players why did they have to sign the top free agent and top DE in free agency in order to fill that void. Name all the great DE's he has developed.

As for Marinelli and Detroit you need to think with your head. Rod brought in a bunch of Tampa players and had as much say in that team as Millen did.

As for your comment that head coaches don't coach players, that is actually wrong. Head coaches will coach players look no further than Lovie Smith, who coached Manning all last year.

As for Sapp being a problem child comming out of college the only info you give on that is a rumor.

Last Marinelli never called the plays on those Tampa defenses, Kiffin and Dungy called the plays and Culpepper called the line stunts. Rod had them do drills, and is known for focusing on the basics. Nothing special, just basics and lot of cardio. That Cardio should work wonders for Harris who can only do easy workouts for no more than 2 days in a row.

Rod had a chance to prove if he could coach, to show his greatness. He did this by giving you the worst team in NFL history. If he doesn't have the best talent in the NFL on his line he is nothing special.

NFL guys always talk up there coaches, look again to see Lovie talking about Babich. You would have thought 2 years ago that Babich was going to be so great. Now you have Angelo and Lovie talking about there good friend Marinelli who proved to be a total faliure.

The Bears line is garbage without Harris being at his peak.
Brown is solid
Dusty is garbage
Harris is lazy and has injury issues
Goon needs to be on a line were he has at least 1 or 2 All Pro's and then he suddenly becomes better.

Of course Angelo and Lovie have never been wrong about there team or there lines before. Didn't they say they were happy with the line the last 2 years. The very same line we have today. I guess it's getting better with age and injuries. Needs help stopping the run and can't get to the QB. Doesn't sound to good to me.

Anyone that says Simeon Rice didn't improve after going to the Bucs is flat out wrong. In 5 seasons with the Cards he had 51.5 sacks, 0 passes defended and 1 int.

His first five seasons on the Bucs he had 67 sacks, 31 passes defended and 4 int's. I would say that's a big improvement.

I don't know where someone got the information Marinelli was a "fitness coach" for the Bucs defensive line. Marinelli does get and deserve the credit for having the Bucs lead the league in sacks while he was in Tampa, and having one of the best line in the league.

Also, being head coach of the Lions has nothing to do with his abilities as a defensive line/assistant head coach on the Bears. Two completely different things. I think the Bears need to draft a good pass rusing DE. And with that, Marinelli will make the Bears defensive line into one of the best in the NFL again.

Marinelli is a great D-Line coach..but he's not a miracle worker..but he can unleash the untapped potential in a guy..

and I think he could bring out the best in Mark Anderson, but he's not going to make Brown and Wale 10-13 sack guys...Alex could "possibly" get 10 sacks in the right situation, but i think Marinelli is going to make our line better this year

Alex Brown has been playing on the wrong side his entire career, as his strong point is stopping the run. I think he would have been an All Pro left tackle, but he's out of place on the right side where his main job is rushing the passer. With a very good pass rushing tackle next to him he can provide an adequate pass rush, but don't expect any better than that, regardless of who his line coach is.

Adewale Ogunleye was at his best in Miami when he played with Jason Taylor, who commanded all the attention. If the Bears had a really good pass rushing lineman who commanded most of the O line's attention, Ogunleye's sack numbers would go up. But again, I wouldn't count on him getting a lot of sacks if other teams are allowed to focus on him on passing plays.

To all the naysayers: Rod Marinelli is considered a top D line coach by many players and coaches, and the Bears getting him for the D line was an excellent move. However, I don't expect miracles and the Bears just don't have that much healthy talent on the D line. A coach can only do so much. The Bear line will be better because of Marinelli, but unless they get more talent and/or Tommie Harris's knee miraculously recovers, the D is in for another long season.

@ Donny, Mike, Da Coach & Creighton

IMO your arguments aren't very logical. Firstly, just as performance as a Head Coach has nothing to do with performance as a Coordinator, it also has nothing to do with performance as a Position Coach. How many fantastic Coordinators have we seen in the NFL that were awful Head Coaches? Yeah, alot.

Secondly, to accurately assess a coach's impact you can't just say "Oh, well, this player was already awesome so it doesn't count." or "He didn't develope that guy, so he's a horrible coach." The real questions are, were the veteran guys better before they met Marinelli, or did they improve under him? When a player left Marinelli, did he get better or worse? Were player inconsistencies from year-to-year due primarily to injuries? And if Rod didn't develope a player, was ANYONE able to develope the guy or was it a miss by the scouting department? If you ask these questions while looking at the stats, Marinelli's influence speaks for itself.

The Bears organization believes they have good talent on their D-Line as long as the players remain healthy, and while I may debate that at Nose Tackle, I don't think their stance is completely unreasonable. It seems their major concern is who to keep and who to replace, as so many contracts come do at the end of this season. Now obviously, in order to make the most accurate evaluation they need these players to perform as well as possible.

Enter Rod Marinelli. If Rod has a reputation for anything, it's for motivating guys to play at their peak and playing with excellent technique. What better coach could there possibly be to help show an organization which players are worth future investments? I mean, if this guy can't get it outta them, who will? Seriously, show me a more accomplished D-Line coach associated with the Tampa 2 scheme. And even if there were such a guy, could they realistically be able to pry him away from his current team?

Sorry guys, but to me your opinions about Marinelli seem fundamentally flawed.

Saying Rice didn't improve once he got to Tampa is wrong. Yes, he was Rookie of the year, but that means he was the best defensive rookie (nothing to sneeze at). He wasn't the best defensive player overall. He had 12.5 sacks that year and he followed it up with 5 sacks the next year. Sounds like another DE we know. Rice had 3 of his 5 years in AZ with double digit sacks. His first 5 years in Tampa were all double digit sacks. Yeah Rice benefited from playing with Sapp, but he also benefited from having Marinelli as his coach. If that's your argument, he should have flourished more with the potential talent that Arizona had on it's line back then.

Sapp credits Marinelli as the one that taught him to be a student of the game and before he did whatever he wanted. And what is Mike's response, "To me it sounds more like he's giving Marinelli credit for helping him mature as a person." NO... A student of the game means he taught him how to study film, study opponents, their tendencies, mix up their rushes, so he didn't do the same thing or "whatever he wanted".

It wasn't just Lovie singing Marinelli's praises. Marinelli was considered for more than one Defensive Coordinator position before he left Tampa. Why would Tampa block Marinelli from even letting Chicago interview him if they didn't know what they had. Teams don't usually do that. They usually let their coaches move up the ladder with other teams, so other teams don't block them from interviewing candidates they want. That was just a dickhead move by Bruce Allen.

Angelo even admitted he was at fault for drafting some of the talent on the D-line (Eric Curry).

Marinelli proved he is a far better position coach than head coach, regardless I don't think one has a lot to do with the other. Ever heard of the Peter principle? Look it up. It says just because you're good at doing one thing doesn't mean you will be good at the next level up the totem pole. Managing a larger group of people with a lot more responsibilities is a lot more difficult than managing a few people with fewer responsibilities. But I would guess the naysayers don't have any management experience.

And saying head coaches coach positions is not accurate. Yes, Lovie spent time with Manning this year, but that is an exception, not the rule. Creighton, I would expect you to know that.

I think Marinelli will improve the D-line. Will he make it the best ever? Maybe not, but it was definitely a good acquisition. don't confuse him with Bob Babich. He's not Bob Babich. We could still use more talent on the D-line as the pass rush was nonexistent towards the end of the year, but if our line isn't good, it won't be because of Marinelli.

You win with talent in the NFL or in any sport.

It is evident that the Lions truly sucked at having talent, particularly last year. But despite this lack of talent the Lions played with effort and heart all year. Marinelli kept them going despite being the worst team in NFL history in a season.

Some of the blame for the Lions ineptness lies with Marinelli but not all the blame. Maybe Marinelli is just better suited to be a D line coordinator or defensive coordinator in the future than head coach?

Who knows, but I know that I feel great having Marinelli coaching the D line and I think the D line will step up this year (despite a lack of top talent) and they have been poor for the last two years since the SuperBowl year.

I think Marinelli will do well, lets give the guy a chance instead of saying to the guillotine with him, off with his head.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on April 22, 2009 7:11 AM.

Four Down Territory, April 21: Receivers the Bears could consider next week was the previous entry in this blog.

Family ties not only reason Bears eyeing TCU linebacker Stephen Hodge is the next entry in this blog.

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