Safety Valve

Mike Brown has a reputation for being a playmaker, but it's hard to remember his impact in 2003.

Mike Brown burst onto the season as a second-round pick in 2000. Overshadowed by the emergence of Brian Urlacher, Brown was known as a leader on the field and having a nose for the ball.

The free safety became a household name when on consecutive weeks he returned interceptions for touchdowns in overtime. Still Brown seemed like more substance than flash as he led the team in interceptions in 2001 and 2002.

However can you remember a big play that Brown made this season?

Keep scratching your head while you ponder. The fact is Brown had two interceptions and that's it. I'm not claiming turnovers are the one difference making plays, but I can remember more mistakes by Brown than anything positive he accomplished.

He came up with one of his picks in the season opener against San Francisco. The interception helped the Bears to their only score in the 49-7 debacle against the 49ers.

A week later Kelly Campbell beat Brown deep for a 51-yard pass on the first play of the game, which led to a touchdown and the Bears found themselves down 7-0 a minute into the game.

Fast Forward to Week 7 at Seattle, in the same game Brown's last interception of the year would come he was faked out of shoes as Shawn Alexander beat him for a game-winning 25-yard score.

In one of Brown's best games of the year against Minnesota, in which he posted 10 tackles, there was a moment of clarity on his season.

On a 19-yard gain by Onterrio Smith the Bears PA announcer said "Smith ran over Mike Brown on the play."

The following week vs. Washington, Brown bit on a gadget play that resulted on a 36-yard TD pass from WR Rod Gardner to Chad Morton. Then when Morton beat Brown later in the game the safety bumped the running back and was called for an illegal contact penalty. That might have been the right move considering the play would have resulted in a bigger gain than the flag drew, but it's another example that Brown doesn't look like the same player.

A lasting memory of the season finale loss to the Chiefs was Brown on the ground after he slipped allowing RB Larry Johnson to walk into the end zone after running from one side of the field to the other.

Brown set or tied career-lows in total tackles (81), tackles for loss (1) and passes defensed (4). In addition he had no sacks, no forced fumbles and no fumble recoveries.

There are some that are starting to wonder if this was just a bad year for Brown or if getting a 6-year $17.5 million contract has taken some of the edge off his game.

In the closing month of the season when Dick Jauron was asked whom he thought should have made the Pro Bowl from his squad Brown's name was uttered.

"Mike Brown has not been and I think Mike is a terrific safety in the National Football League and a terrific leader for us too," Jauron said.

While Brown may be a leader in the locker room he needs to be the same on the field to justify his contract and prove he's not a two-play wonder.

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