The Chicago Bears defense is starting to turn some heads around the league. The front four is getting after the quarterback and the team is a turnover creating machine. Four of the turnovers have resulted in touchdowns. For us fantasy owners that were smart enough to select the Bears defense, we are reaping the rewards.
Going into the season, the offense took all the headlines with the additions of Brandon Marshall, Michael Bush and Jason Campbell. The Bears also drafted talented wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey and appeared committed to becoming a better offensive team. Little was said about the defense. But through the first month of the season, the defense has been the story.
Tim Jennings was just named NFC Defensive Player of the Month with his 18 tackles, four interceptions, one tackle for loss and eight pass breakups. Two of those break-ups resulted in a fellow teammate's interception. But Jennings isn't the only story. Julius Peppers is striking fear in opposing offenses. Lance Briggs continues to play at a high level. Even Brian Urlacher, despite being slowed this season, is still in the middle of things. But what about some of the guys we don't hear much about? I've decided to give you five of my under-the-radar guys on this year's defense.
I'm curious to hear your thoughts. Follow me on Twitter and let me know what you think @chicagobearjew.
Nick Roach continues to do his job and do it well. Considering he is the trio that includes one Hall of Famer and another potential Canton man, Roach goes under the radar. But if you watch Roach, he usually is in the right place at the right time. Obviously having a Northwestern degree shows that he has some brains, but what many of us are starting to see more of is that he actually has talent. With Urlacher not at 100 percent, more pressure has fallen on this linebacking group. To this date, they've delivered and Roach deserves a lot of that credit.
Major Wright is serving all of us (especially me) a huge plate of crow this season. I've questioned his talent and brains in the past, but this season, he is playing like a top safety. He has two interceptions (one for a touchdown), but the more impressive thing to me is how well he's taking angles to the football and not getting himself out of position (a concern in the past). He's also mastering the role of a safety in coach Lovie Smith's Cover Two defense. Glad to eat some crow Mr. Wright.
Like Roach, Corey Wootton is another smart dude from Northwestern. But injuries have kept him off the field during his time with the Bears. Coming out of college, some draft experts had high hopes for Wootton before he injured his knee during his junior year. That is why he fell in the draft to the Bears and the team is reaping the benefits. Having some other pretty solid players around him helps, but he has shown an ability to get into the backfield and get to the quarterback. A good sign of things to come.
Israel Idonije can often times become the forgotten man with the Bears. In the offseason, the Bears pursued other options at defensive end. But when the dust settled, Idonije was their man. This season, he is playing his best football. One expert said he is the rare case of a guy that is actually getting better with age, and I tend to agree.
Rod Marinelli was Smith's first choice as defensive coordinator when he was hired. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers blocked the Bears from hiring him. Eventually, Marinelli became the head coach of the worst team in the modern era (0-16 2008 Detroit Lions) and was relieved of his duties. Smith decided it was time to hire his long-time friend. After spending a season as the defensive line coach, Marinelli took over as defensive coordinator. This season, his schemes, blitzes, fake blitzes and use of personnel has to be commended. The Bears are making other teams uncomfortable, and it has a lot to do with Marinelli. If the defense continues to play this well, he may be a head coach again real soon.