He showed flashes of his former Pro Bowl self because he has too much talent to hide it all the time, but Tommie Harris was once again maddeningly inconsistent and even got deactivated for one game by Smith – whether it was a physical thing or a mental thing was bandied about liberally. Marcus Harrison slid to Round 3 of the 2007 NFL Draft despite first-round talent, although he showed up to training camp out of shape and is still yet to prove he can be a difference maker on Sunday. And for some reason, the coaching staff always disrespects Anthony Adams and looks for any excuse it can find to decrease his playing time, even though he is always productive and brings a lot of energy to the huddle.
While Israel Idonije did some good things on passing downs as one of the lightest D-tackles in football, Dusty Dvoracek missed all of 2009 with a torn ACL and has now played just 13 of 64 possible games in four years.
Inside the Numbers
Since he plays the single most important position in Smith's entire scheme, the three-technique tackle, Harris is critical to the overall success of this defense and can be dominating when he's operating at full capacity. But it's hard to ignore the fact that Harris has changed to some degree since signing his four-year, $40 million contract extension, whether he cares to admit it or not. Should general manager Jerry Angelo have the courage to fall on his sword and move on without Harris, look for Idonije to get first crack at the starting job and third-round draft pick Jarron Gilbert to perhaps slide back inside from left end.
If the Bears are committed to the Cover 2, and Smith said at his season-ending press conference that the system would not change so long as he is in Chicago, success or failure could very well come down to the three technique – with or without Harris.
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John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.
2009 Position by Position Review: DT
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