Chicago Sun-Times

Pro Bowl safety Meriweather glad to be a Bear

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A cheery Brandon Meriweather is as thrilled to be a Bear as the Bears are thrilled to have him. But we'll have to wait until Sunday at the earliest to get answers to the most pertinent questions surrounding the Bears acquisition of the two-time Pro Bowl safety -- like just how much of an upgrade will he be on a defense that already is among the best in the NFL?

''It feels tremendous to come in and all the guys showed me a lot of love when I got here,'' said Meriweather, a four-year starter for the New England Patriots who was released Saturday. "To be playing with an old teammate like Devin Hester [at the University of Miami], it just feels great.''

Meriweather made the Pro Bowl the past two seasons, though that can be a specious measurement of a player's standing in the NFL. Still, for him to get cut by the Patriots after being a starter still opened some eyes.

''Surprised? Nothing in this league surprises me anymore,'' Meriweather said.

Meriweather offered no details on why he was cut. ''I'm sure if you call Bill [Belichick] and ask him, he'll give you all the details,'' he said, eliciting a guffaw from the reporters around his locker at Halas Hall.

''That's between me and coach. I have a lot of respect for that organization. I have a lot of respect for Bill and the rest of the staff there. But that's behind me now and I'm focused on being a Bear.''

Meriweather said he chose the Bears because ''I think it would be a good fit. The style of defense they play ... I love coach Lovie [Smith] and the organization. I think it's a first-class organization.''

For now, Meriweather figures to be the third safety behind strong safety Chris Harris and free safety Major Wright. If he's close to what he was with the Patriots -- he had 12 interceptions in the previous four seasons -- it's likely he would start ahead of Wright eventually. Unless he pushes the talented but inexperienced Wright to a higher level.

''I expect to come in and do what ever the coach asks me to do,'' said Meriweather, a first-round pick by the Patriots (24th overall) in 2007. ''If he asks me to play special teams, I expect to do that. I just want to come in and contribute any way I can.''

Can he be ready by Sunday's opener against the Atlanta Falcons?

''We'll find out,'' he said. ''I'm going to try my best. I'm going to do a lot of studying, so we'll find out.''

Meriweather has been known as a physical, playmaking safety who sometimes gets burned by taking unnecessary risks. That seems to be the biggest challenge he'll face in the Bears defense.

''I can't answer that,'' he said, chuckling. ''You're trying to get me in trouble my first day here. It's my first day!''

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Well as long as they don't hand him a job, I would rather see Wright develop into a play maker. The Bears have not shown a lot of interest in investing in the secondary over the years, I don't mean 5th round picks either. The Bears secondary has been a weak link for awhile now and they don't seem to show much interest in fixing it.

Tillman is the only really solid player they have in the secondary as of now and letting Manning walk after a breakout season was a surprise. Harris is a solid vet but he and Tillman are up there in football age and neither is a great player. Jennings and Moore consistently get beat and they show no interest in fixing those problems. I am not a big fan of the hired gun team and right now the Bears are really feeling like a hired gun team.

The interest or lack of in the secondary pre dates Smith and Angelo and I am not throwing this on them but rather the organization as a whole. For me this goes all the way back to the 99 draft when the Bears skipped on sure thing Champ Bailey, traded down even though Corner was a major need. Instead they decided they liked McClown more and traded down for him, ooops. Worst draft trade for the Bears I can remember.

Would love to see them draft a young corner in the first next year and a center in the second. Maybe a Jayron Hosley or Stephon Gilmore. Maybe a a center in round 2 like Michael Brewster. The two areas that look like the biggest concern right now, Although I think Spencer will be starting next year, I just don;t think much of him. Still would love to seethe Bears get a really solid Corner in the draft for a change. I feel like Lovie and Company have been looking for Ronde Barber for years now.

think its a good move win win with a 1 year deal.. all these guys got signed to short term deals and may be just the fire they need to get out there and play hard..

bear down and you become a bear.. you dont and you become a victim of the NFL = NOT FOR LONG!

This is a solid addition in my opinion for the team, they usually play three safeties anyway during the year, now it won't be much drop off when either of the three are in the game. Merriweather has a nose for the football and could be helpful in creaing more turnovers for the team during the season.

I have really looked over the waiver wire and did not see many interesting names to look at for depth at linebacker. This is an area of concern going into the season for me, Can Roach step up and be a major playmaker while staying healthy this season?. If any of those guys go down we are playing Iwuh and then 'rookies" to get by, I still think we might wind up bringing in a vet, but who I'm not sure about who really is availabale other than Pisa and Taputu from Seattle.

Is there any interest in Joseilio Hanson recent cut by the Eagles from the Bears, I think he could be an upgrade at corner, and he brings size and solid special teams tackling ability as well, worth a look to me !

With Brandon Meriweather, the Bears now have a safety with range, elite range, no, but close. Meriweather has had 24 pass defenses in the past 3 seasons and can play the pass like a corner. This is something the Bears secondary has been lacking for awhile, a player that can defend the back half pass wise. He's a two time Pro-Bowler, although he made it in 2009 as a replacement of the injured Jairus Byrd, nonetheless he's a 2 time Pro-Bowler for a reason.

Yes Meriweather does have many red flags. The fact he sometimes takes bad angles when coming down in run defense, and the off the field stuff. Meriweather is a vicious hitter, ask Todd Heap. And in early 2010 was not a part of New Englands base defense until week 4, why, I don't know? But it makes you wonder. If Meriweather can get his head on straight he could be elite and make Chicago's defense that much better.

Creighton, I agree with you on Chicago's draft needs, especially at corner. If you want a legit talent for the position, Chicago is gonna have to break down and use a first rounder on a corner, maybe Nebraska's Alfonzo Dennard, and I also like Stephon Gilmore of South Carolina. Oh yeah, the worst draft trade in team history was the 1997 Rick Mirer trade...ouch?! GO BEARS!!

This is HORRIBLE! All he's going to do is push out Pro Bowl safety Craig Steltz. I think Craig could even play quarterback in a pinch.

Creighton, you're all wet again. Josh Beekman would fix all our problems at center.

By the way, did any of you see that the Bengals placed Dan LeFevour on their practice squad? We should snatch him back. I think the reason we're not is that Jerry is afraid of hurting Jay's feelings. Jay would feel so inferior playing next to Marvelous Dan.

Actually Creighton, I hope they are in a position to draft the best available player at their slot.

Here's to hoping that slot is # 32. BOOYA!!

This could work out awesome for the Bears. Let Wright learn another year. Harris is still good for this year. And Merriweather starts at Free Safety this year. Wright comes back next year to start at Strong, and Merriweather starts at Free safety.

The Bears could be set at safety for the first time since the Ditka era for the next 5 years if this works out well.

Belichick is a cheater and a loser. Everybody has their head up his a$$ but come live in Cleveland when he was head coach! He didn't do squat here or in NE until he started cheating. OVERRATED!!

Sounds like a movie......Searching for Ronde. :)

Denied, Rick Mirer was bad but the Bears got a 4th round pick in return that turned into Marcus Robinson. With that first round pick 11th overall they could have gotten Dunn, or Tony Gonzalez. Those are big misses, but not as big a miss asa skipping on Champ Bailey

McClown was worse than Mirer, they gave up a higher pick 7th overall moved down to 12th and through away the pick. They gave up a higher pick and got next to nothing in exchange. They also missed out on the best of the players they could have had in either draft. While it's close, Bears fans never hated Mirer, they thought he sucked, but I don't recall as much hate for him as McClown.

Take a vote on the board who do Bears fans hate more McNown or Mirer? I bet McNown wins big time.

I would rather see Wright move to the SS position, and bring in a good FS, which is what I think they are trying to do with Conte. Merriweather is probably a better center-fielder type safety than anyone else we have on the roster, and initially, I would love to see him rotate in with the nickel back and play free in the extra DB sets we have, at least until he is comfortable.

Wright and Harris are kind of the same guy, even though Wright has a little better range. They are strong safeties who are not liabilities in coverage, but they aren't necessarily assets either. They do excel at tackling, even with a couple of misses by Wright, and some atrocious angles by Harris, but for the most part, they are sound tacklers, and can hit when given the opportunity.

Merriweather can be what we don't have right now, a ballhawk in the secondary. But if we choose to rely on him full time, we may have to sacrifice Wright and send him to the bench so that Harris can be out there coordinating the secondary. If Wright can do that, there is no reason to play Harris any more, and that would mean he needs to be released. They aren't going to re-sign him after this year, so why postpone the inevitable? If Merriweather can get the job done at free, Wright needs to be the strong. At least that way, we will have our best coverage options out there when we play teams like Green Bay...

Creighton, nice breakdown, but I still disagree. Creighton, when the Bears traded a 1st rounder for Rick Mirer, inevitably what they were doing was trading a 1st rounder for a bust. It doesn't get any worse than that. That would be like trading this years first rounder for Matt Leinart, and then telling everyone that a change of scenery will make him a better quarterback, thats basically what the Bears did when they traded for Mirer, they tried telling everyone that a change of scenery would make him a legit NFL QB.....yeah?

And yeah the Bears missed on Champ Bailey in 99, but like you brought up, they missed on Tony Gonzalez in 1997, probably the best tight end to ever play, ever. Thats a miss. Bottom line here Creighton, its a matter of opinion GO BEARS!!

That's true he was a bust at the time, it seems like that's a bad habbit. Gains Adams anyone, not the after part but he was a bust when they traded for him. Then they finally figured out teams cut busts at the end of the year usually and you don't need to trade for them. So they decided to celebrate with Spencer, Williams, VG, Okoye, heck even Mariweather just taught them a lesson, even players who are not busts can get cut, once again they celebrated.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on September 5, 2011 1:21 PM.

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