Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Is the Bears defense old?

Back in 2005, the Bears rode a great defense to the Superbowl. No one expected the Bears to win, but the opening kickoff and first quarter were spectacular for any Bears fan.

Here we are 4 years later, and the Bears basically have the same defense. Urlacher is 31, Ogunleye is 32, and Alex Brown is 30.

Last year the Bears D was ranked #20 overall. Scroll down on that link to see that they were #4 back in 2005.

But the defense is not as old as you would think. Actually, the opposite is true, the Bears D is relatively young -

I just calculated the average age and median age of the started defenses in the NFC North.

Assuming the starters are Ogunleye, Brown, Harris, Adams, Bowman, Tillman, Manning, Alfalava, Tinoisamoa, Briggs, and Urlacher. Our average age for starting defense would be 27.28 with a median age of 28. If Vasher and Payne start instead of Bowman and Alfalava then our average age would be 28.27. If Bowman and Alfalava start it would mean we have the youngest starting defense in the NFC North.

I went off the other teams website depth charts to come up with their numbers.


Average Age 27.91 Median Age 28


Average Age 28.18 Median Age 27


Average Age 29.64 Median Age 30

Was kind of surprised at how old the Lions defense was, it was filled with old late round nobodies.

I have been sick of hearing about how old our defense is for some time now. Thought I would look at the numbers and figure it out myself.

With Jay Cutler at QB and Forte looking to improve on a spectacular rookie season, the Bears offense is significantly improved over recent years. The Bears obvious/glaring weakness is at WR. Assuming we get decent production from G-Reg and Earl Bennett (and Forte continues to develop as a target out of the backfield), we shouldn't be as bad as people think.

With a better offense, we don't need the defense to be as dominant as it was in 2005. The Bears should have a legit chance at the playoffs, and possibly playing int he NFC title game. My game-by-game predictions (along with DC and Kmart's) will be posted Friday morning.


Week 1 Power Rankings
Bears 11
I still don't see how Jay Cutler can play his best without proven wide receivers. (Chadiha)

Not-as-optimistic-prediction from Tim Cowlishaw -
This used to be the Black and Blue Division, a battleground for teams slugging it out in the trenches with running attacks. Not any more.

Not with Jay Cutler, Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers and rookie Matthew Stafford at quarterback.


Minnesota 10-6

Green Bay 10-6

Chicago 8-8

Detroit 3-13

OUTLOOK: I don't think there's a lot that separates the top three teams and I think this division is getting stronger although I don't envision the Packers-Bears NFC Championship that SI's Peter King has predicted.

Misguided optimism?
Sports Illustrated has the Bears going to the Super Bowl this season, raising the obvious question: Where does Lovie Smith find the time to coach an NFL team and write for a major publication?

The magazine's prediction might be bold -- might even be meandering toward insane -- but on the other hand, what the heck. If you can't dream big before the regular season begins, when can you? Autumn and Jay Cutler passes are in the air, and lots of true believers in town already are feeling sorry for the '72 Dolphins.

Fervor almost always reaches critical mass in Chicago this time of year, but with the reviled Packers first on the schedule and Cutler at quarterback, it might be too much for some of the more excitable Bears fans, the ones with pre-existing heart conditions and/or heat-packing spouses who are tired of being asked to scout next week's opponent.

When has there been this much buzz surrounding the Bears? Even their most recent Super Bowl season, 2006, didn't produce the kind of anticipation we're seeing as the team readies for its Sunday night opener in Green Bay. Yes, the defense was exceptional in '06, but the quarterback was Rex Grossman.

Tough stretch to start the season
Ran down the list of Pro Bowl quarterbacks and wide receivers that the Bears face in the first eight games of the season in the print edition this morning.

Pretty impressive list.

Sept. 13 at Green Bay Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Donald Driver (3)
Sept. 20 Pittsburgh Ben Roethlisberger (1), Santonio Holmes, Hines Ward (4)
Sept. 27 at Seattle Matt Hasselbeck (3), T.J. Houshmandzadeh (1)
Oct. 4 Detroit Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson
Oct. 18 at Atlanta Matt Ryan, Roddy White (1)
Oct. 25 at Cincinnati Carson Palmer (2), Chad Ochocinco (5), Laveranues Coles (1)
Nov. 1 Cleveland TBA, Braylon Edwards (1)
Nov. 7 Arizona Kurt Warner (4), Larry Fitzgerald (3), Anquan Boldin (3)

(Pro Bowl appearances in parentheses)

You have to figure Rodgers and Ryan both have all-star games ahead of them as brightly as they began their careers last season. I think you could put together a case for the Packers presenting the most challenging group, too. Cornerback Charles Tillman was asked Monday if the Packers' receivers are among the best in the league.

"Driver and who was the other one, Jennings, Greg Jennings,'' Tillman said. "They get a lot of YAC after the catch. I think they do a great job of catching the ball and going north and south. They don't dance around. They go north and south. They do a good job of turning up the field and getting as much yardage as they possibly can. So we've definitely got our hands full.''

Tillman, who is no lock to play in the game, pointed out that Rodgers bring a different dimension to the Green Bay offense than Favre did. He's less prone to errors and threw just 13 interceptions last season in 536 attempts. Only one quarterback, Peyton Manning, had more attempts (555) and less interceptions (12).

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