For more than a decade, middle linebacker for the Chicago Bears has been the home of an all-time great. But with Brian Urlacher gone, the Bears have two choices: a veteran stop-gap, or an unproven rookie with miles of potential.
The Bears should choose the rookie.
Jon Bostic is a very different player from Brian Urlacher. But, everyone is a very different player from Brian Urlacher. Urlacher, in his prime, had the speed of a safety, the power of a defensive end, and the smarts of a head coach. Like all the greats, there will never be another player like him.
But that doesn’t mean Bostic can’t be exactly what the Bears need.
Here’s some of what NFL.com’s experts wrote about Bostic before the 2013 draft:
“Vocal leader that moves teammates to their correct spots…Attacks lanes in the run game, often running through reach-blocks to get to his target… Brings power to his tackles, stopping momentum and sometimes throwing bigger ballcarriers to the ground… Hustles in coverage, knows responsibilities on the tight end/running back and works to limit yards after catch… Sniffs out screens and secures the stop.”
Vocal leader… hustles in coverage… sniffs out screens… sounds a little familiar doesn’t it? Bostic may not have the same skill-set as Urlacher, but he seems to have a familiar attitude. After the team’s preseason game against the San Diego Chargers he told the Chicago Tribune:
"I'm watching a lot of film of Urlacher,'' Bostic said. "How he fit the run and played the pass. I improved playing the pass from the first to second game. For him to play how he played for (13) years … man. It was a big help to just watch that."
There will be growing pains. Bostic is not considered to be elite in coverage, something Bears fans have become accustomed to with number 54 roaming the field. Don’t expect all the flashy interception returns and touchdowns from Bostic.
But that doesn’t mean he won’t be exciting to watch. In fact, judging by twitter, Bostic may have provided the highlight of the preseason when he de-cleated Chargers wideout Mike Willie:
Yeah, that about sums it up.
The Bears defense is full of proud veterans. From Julius Peppers on the line, to Lance Briggs in the linebacking corps, to Charles Tillman in the backfield, there is no lack of leadership and experience.
If a weakness was exposed at the end of the 2012 season, it was, to put it gently, too much experience. The Bears looked old and slow at times, most obviously against the Seattle Seahawks, when they couldn’t keep quarterback Russell Wilson out of the end zone in the fourth quarter.
This season, there’s a bit of a youth movement on the horizon. Defensive linemen Corey Wooton and Shea McClellin have shown up in the first two preseason games, causing havoc for opposing quarterbacks.
With the addition of Bostic, the Bears defense could have the perfect mix of young and… less young… to continue its dominance of the NFC.
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