Analyzing the 53: Defense

The 2007 Chicago Bears are built a little differently than the 2006 team, but head coach Lovie Smith firmly believes that this year's roster is the deepest and most talented he's had in the Windy City. Now let's take a look at the defense.

Lead Pipe Lock: Tommie Harris – We won't know how healthy Harris truly is until Week 1 at San Diego, but the fact remains that he is perhaps the best in the business when healthy and arguably the most irreplaceable defender on the roster.

Pleasant Surprise: Dusty Dvoracek – A lot of pressure was put on him to replace Tank Johnson after sitting out his rookie year on injured reserve, but Dvoracek played very well in the preseason and has a boulder-size chip on his shoulder come game day.

Major Disappointment: Antonio Garay – Despite the fact that he was a part of the defensive tackle rotation in Super Bowl XLI not too long ago, Garay continues to be less productive than his natural talent would suggest he could be.

Lead Pipe Lock: Mark Anderson – One of the steals of the 2006 NFL Draft as a fifth-rounder, Anderson led the team with 12 sacks as a rookie and looks even bigger and stronger so far this season.

Pleasant Surprise: Adewale Ogunleye – He has not been as productive in Chicago as his reputation or gaudy contract might suggest, but Ogunleye looks leaner than a year ago and made a ton of plays in the backfield during the exhibition schedule.

Major Disappointment: Dan Bazuin – GM Jerry Angelo was questioned repeatedly after taking yet another pass-rushing defensive end in the second round, but Bazuin won't even get the chance to prove the naysayers wrong because he has been placed on injured reserve with a bum knee.

Lead Pipe Lock: Brian Urlacher – Perhaps the best defensive player in the entire NFL, Urlacher seems to get bigger and faster with each passing season and shows no signs of slowing down seven years into a potential Hall-of-Fame career.

Pleasant Surprise: Jamar Williams – After missing most of last season on injured reserve, the second-year speedster led the defense in interceptions during training camp and is now the primary backup at all three LB positions.

Major Disappointment: Leon Joe – He's been a pretty good special teams player in the past, but Joe continues to be more athlete than football player and never really improved his play at linebacker while with the Bears.

Lead Pipe Lock: Charles Tillman – Fellow corner Nathan Vasher is the one with a Pro Bowl appearance under his belt, but the Bears tipped their hand as to who they think is a better player by giving Tillman a richer contract in the offseason.

Pleasant Surprise: Trumaine McBride – Seventh-round draft choices are usually considered a success if they make the team as a rookie, but McBride showed that he belonged right away and made Angelo comfortable enough to trade veteran Dante Wesley midway through training camp.

Major Disappointment: Corey Graham – While Graham has looked much better in the preseason than he did during training camp, the fifth-rounder has been in McBride's shadow ever since OTAs despite being selected much earlier in the draft.

Lead Pipe Lock: Mike Brown – A lot of experts believed Brown's Bears career could be in jeopardy after the organization made the deal for Adam Archuleta, but he solidifed himself as the emotional leader of the defense and looks plenty comfortable back at free safety.

Pleasant Surprise: Brandon McGowan – Despite two injury-plagued seasons so far, McGowan continues to play relatively well when his body gives him the opportunity and will open the season as the second-team strong safety behind Archuleta.

Major Disappointment: Chris Harris – A starter as a rookie and an experienced player at both safety positions, Harris was shipped to Carolina after continuing to struggle in coverage and has a history of whiffing on open-field tackles.

John Crist is the Editor in Chief of and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit and become a Chicago Bears insider.

Bear Report Top Stories