John Crist, Editor-in-Chief, BearReport.com: Harris might already be the best defensive tackle in football, and he won't even turn 23 until two days before Halloween. Ian Scott starts alongside him at tackle, but Tank Johnson gets plenty of snaps himself. Ogunleye pairs with Alex Brown and forms one of the more complete defensive end tandems in the league. With backup end Israel Idonije still nursing a sprained ankle, rookie Mark Anderson has stepped right in and performed admirably. This front is so good because they are all complete players, i.e. the ends are fantastic in run support, and the tackles are capable of getting to the quarterback.
CHICAGO - AUGUST 18: Defensive linemen Adewale Ogunleye #93 and Tommie Harris #91 of the Chicago Bears put a stop to Andrew Pinnock #34 of the San Diego Chargers during a game on August 18, 2006 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Doug Farrar: On to the linebackers – Brian Urlacher is the big name, but Lance Briggs might be the best on the squad. It’s a unit that seems to lack a weakness. Is there one, and how will a smaller, quicker back like Seattle’s Maurice Morris fare as opposed to Shaun Alexander, who might have tried inside lanes more often?
John Crist: The Bears should have a monumental advantage against the Seattle running game with Alexander in street clothes. Morris is more of a slasher, but that's the last way you want to attack a speedy defense. Trying to beat guys like Urlacher and Briggs east-and-west will result in an awful lot of tackles behind the line of scrimmage. The way to beat a fast defense is to run right at them, something Alexander would have been more equipped to do. Pittsburgh punished the Bears last year by pushing them around and running the ball right down their throat, but remember, safety Mike Brown, who is fantastic in run support, missed that game.
Doug Farrar: Chicago has a number of young defensive backs with potential who are still finding their way. How do Smith and defensive coordinator Ron Rivera utilize the secondary? What’s the scheme?
John Crist: The first thing Smith did when he took the job was implement the defensive scheme he learned and perfected when on Tony Dungy's staff, the cover-two. The lineup may list Mike Brown as the strong safety and rookie Danieal Manning as the free safety, but in this system, they are almost one in the same. They simply split the field in half and don't allow anyone to get behind them. Nathan Vasher and Charles Tillman are two of the better tackling cornerbacks in the league, but neither would be considered that highly coveted shutdown corner. Tillman is perhaps the most physically gifted of the group, but he tends to lose focus from time to time and has committed his share of penalties.
Doug Farrar: Chicago’s special teams are, without question, the best in the NFL. Why is this so?
John Crist: The Bears haven't had a reliable kicker for a long stretch of time since Kevin Butler, but youngster Robbie Gould is perfect on the season so far and looks to be a real weapon. Rookie Devin Hester might be the most electrifying player Chicago has seen in a generation, and the kind of talent he possesses as a return man simply can't be coached. As far as the coverage units go, you must have great players to achieve great results. Brendon Ayanbadejo might be the best special-teamer in the league, perfecting those skills in the CFL as a way to make it back south of the border. Fellow linebacker Leon Joe and tailback Adrian Peterson have also made names for themselves as dynamite special teams players that take pride in their craft.
Doug Farrar: GM Jerry Angelo is one of the most respected personnel men in the game –Seahawks team president Tim Ruskell credits Angelo as a mentor and influence when they were in Tampa Bay together. What’s your take on how the team is run, and how does the future look for this team?
John Crist: Primarily, the team has gone out of its way to go after players of high moral character. There was some buzz around Chicago that they might make a run at wideout Charles Rogers after he was cut in Detroit, but I don't believe he was ever on Angelo's radar. Angelo's specialty has been finding talent on the second day of the NFL Draft, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Alex Brown, Nathan Vasher, and Ian Scott were all selected by the Bears in the 4th round or later, yet all of them will start on Sunday night. The team is in very good shape as far as the salary cap is concerned, but with Lance Briggs due to become an unrestricted free agent after this season, the decision to lock him up or let him go will be a huge factor for the future of this defense.