Chicago Sun-Times

Where do Gilbert, Melton fit in? An analysis of '08 playing time on D-line

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When the Bears used two of their first three draft picks on defensive linemen, one of the first questions we had was where are they going to carve out some playing time?

As coaches like to say, that will sort itself out. That is the refrain that signals competition is on the way, the one thing that sorts out players and pecking order more than anything else.

Tackle Jarron Gilbert and end Henry Melton have been added to the mix and all of the linemen from 2008 are back this season.

"They're big, athletic guys,'' new defensive line coach Rod Marinelli said of the draft picks. "They have speed, and they bend very well. In terms of just the size and movement they show, we're very happy with them."

Israel Idonije has been bounced outside to end again but none of the players have left. They're all in the mix for 2009 so it is going to be an interesting situation. The Bears carried 10 linemen on the roster at times last season. They opened with nine but expanded when they promoted end Ervin Baldwin from the practice squad in November to prevent losing him to Kansas City. They went back to nine after tackle Dusty Dvoracek landed on injured reserve in December for the third consecutive season.

So adding Gilbert, the third-round pick from San Jose State, and Melton, the fourth-round pick from Texas, to the roster the Bears now have 13 players for what should be nine or 10 slots. That includes postseason addition Joe Clermond, who was a camp body last summer and spent some time on the practice squad. Clermond and Baldwin, a seventh-round pick a year ago, face an uphill battle. The Bears look locked into keeping five ends--Alex Brown, Adewale Ogunleye, Idonije and Melton--and that means the remaining cuts will have to come from the interior. Matt Toeaina has had a role as a well-liked backup but simply hasn't been given any real opportunities.

But beyond the roster spots, let's take a close look at playing time by evaluating the number of snaps that were shared on the line last season:

TOTAL DEFENSIVE PLAYS: 1,111

TACKLE

Tommie Harris 623 plays, 56.08 percent, 14 games, 13 starts,

Israel Idonije 475, 42.75 percent, 16 games, 1 start

Marcus Harrison 419, 37.71 percent, 16 games

Dusty Dvoracek 401, 36.09 percent, 12 games, 12 starts

Anthony Adams 300, 27.00 percent, 9 games, 4 starts


END

Adewale Ogunleye 878, 79.02 percent, 16 games, 16 starts

Alex Brown 853, 76.78 percent, 16 games, 16 starts

Mark Anderson 490, 44.10 percent, 16 games


FINAL DEFENSIVE STATISTICS

TACKLE

Harris 33 tackles, 18 solos, 9 tackles for loss, 13 QB hits, 5 sacks, 1 fumble recovery

Idonije 28 tackles, 18 solos, 2 tackles for loss, 5 QB hits, 3 1/2 sacks, 6 passes deflected

Harrison 25 tackles, 10 solos, 3 tackles for loss, 5 QB hits, 2 sacks, 2 passes deflected

Dvoracek 40 tackles, 16 solos, 6 tackles for loss, 3 QB hits, 1 pass deflected

Adams 30 tackles, 16 solos, 2 tackles for loss, 5 QB hits


END

Ogunleye 58 tackles, 34 solos, 8 tackles for loss, 11 QB hits, 5 sacks, 1 interception, 4 passes deflected

Brown 39 tackles, 19 solos, 13 tackles for loss, 16 QB hits, 6 sacks, 1 interception, 1 pass deflected, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery

Anderson 21 tackles, 6 solos, 3 tackles for loss, 9 QB hits, 1 sack, 4 passes deflected, 1 fumble recovery


When looking at the statistics in relation to playing time, Adams clearly was more productive than the other players used at nose tackle. His playing time spiked and Idonije's took a dip when coach Lovie Smith became more involved in running the defense later in the season.

How does the playing time get divided with Gilbert and Melton on board? There looks to be an opening for Gilbert at tackle, particularly if Idonije remains outside and Harrison spends more time at nose tackle.

Playing time for Melton could be more difficult to come by if Anderson makes the steps the Bears are hoping are possible under Marinelli. Less playing time for Ogunleye and Brown could make them more effective. They're both solid two-way ends who play the run well, though. Anderson was at his best as a situational pass rusher and Melton could likely be used in a similar role.

Stay tuned.

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6 Comments

Anderson had 9 Qb hits.Well i guess that means is getting pressure on the Qb.He just wasnt sacking them.

Gilbert should definately play with Harris always being injured and not able to practice. Melton may have a hard time beating out the 4 in front of him. I hope Izzy really gets a shot because with his size and speed I think he can really cause QB's a lot of problems. I hope Adams starts this year and Dvorachek is someone we all like, but he should be shown the door because he cannnot stay healthy and I would rather have someone like Toeaina on the team because he has always been healthy. Why keep Dusty and lose someone who can make it through the year.

GO BEARS.

The chances of Melton and Gilbert making the team are almost assured, given their draft status and JA track record with draft picks.

That being said it appears the most likely line will consist of Melton, Anderson, Indonje, Ogunleye and Brown at DE with Harris, Gilbert, Harrison, Dvorcek and Adams at DT.

That is 10, so the remaining players may be on the bubble with the team possibly not carrying more than 10.

It seems that Anderson and Dvorcek are the most likely on the hot seat of the established players and could be cut. But Toeina, Baldwin and Clermond seem as long shots to make the team. With Balwin maybe the darkhorse to get in with Dvorcek the most likely established player to be let go or relegated to the practice squad due to past injury concerns?

Maybe they will carry 11 if one of the bubble players can contribute big time to special teams. I am looking forward to seeing what Marinelli can do with this group?

This group has nothing to hang it's hat on. They are asking a lot of Marinelli he doesn't walk on water it's time to get bigger, stronger and meaner on this line and maybe time to clean a little house and send a statement to all. Baldwin is a clone is size of Brown, Anderson mirrors Wale, Clermond is smaller that all of them thats not bigger and stronger only younger. Time for Dusty to hit the trail give Toeina a shot. This should be also a prelude to coaching change if the don't get any better, here's hoping one way or the other.

you guys are right. dusty should be shown the door. we need to play
toeina and adams needs to play more we can't afford to have a guy because we like them. the bears are one of the worse teams when it comes to player development we are a year behind on wide reciever because we kept loyd and booker instead of playing brandon rideau, and bennett or any other young reciever last year. bennett got screwed because they gave him three positions to learn. this year they won't do that with these recievers. rideau really showed something in the preseason. but jerry handcuffed lovie with loyd and booker. what a shame. lets not let the d line be the same way.

5 tackles, 4 ends.

Unless Mark Anderson fails to earn an extension, I don't see a rookie taking snaps from three contract-year veterans. Competition between these veterans should be fierce. Melton will take the Earl Bennett path.

Between Harris, Gilbert and Harrison, the Bears will field some very athletic DTs. On tape, Dvoracek plays "down hill" to penetrate the run game. Adams looks more like a linebacker, running laterally (sideline-to-sideline) in pursuit of offensive backs.

Unlike Defensive End, the injury situation at DT almost requires Lovie to press the rookie Gilbert into action.

If the ends can step up and really apply that outside pressure, The defensive line could be formidable.

Angelo added significant talent without upsetting the locker room.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on May 5, 2009 10:30 AM.

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