Bears coach Lovie Smith remains committed to his Cover-2 version of the 4-3, saying at his season-ending press conference that Chicago's scheme will not change, but the lack of a consistent pass rush the last three seasons has prevented it from being very effective. While right end Alex Brown and left end Adewale Ogunleye are both solid players against the run and pass, the 12.5 sacks they combined to get in 2009 were bettered by five individual players – including Allen (14.5) and Freeney (13.5). The only reserve to get considerable playing time at D-end, Mark Anderson continued to be a disappointment and only recorded 3.5 sacks.
Acquired at the trading deadline to provide a shot in the arm for this year and also down the road, Gaines Adams died tragically Sunday at the age of 26 and makes the future of this position all the more uncertain.
Inside the Numbers
Either way, the Bears have nobody currently on the roster ready to step in and be the starter at left end, although it would make some sense to move Brown there and then find a more dangerous pass rusher to play over on the right side. That may have been Adams, which unfortunately will not happen now for the saddest of reasons, plus the undersized Anderson failed miserably when asked to be an every-down player ahead of Brown in 2007. Not sure whether he would be a tackle or an end at the next level when he got drafted in the third round last April, Jarron Gilbert seems destined to play left end next year because that's where Chicago needs him.
It's going to be difficult for general manager Jerry Angelo to add an impact D-end in the draft since he doesn't have a pick before Round 3, but that doesn't mean he's going to throw a big bag of money at a premier free agent like Julius Peppers.
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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: DE
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