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Now is not the time for Bears to get defensive in NFL draft

SeveralNFL  draft analysts have Bears taking Whitney Mercilus with 19th pick.

SeveralNFL draft analysts have the Bears taking Whitney Mercilus with the 19th pick.

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Updated: May 28, 2012 8:58AM



As usual, I’m sitting in the news conference in my
underwear. This time, though, the dream includes NFL
commissioner Roger Goodell,
who is standing at a podium and saying, ‘‘With the 19th pick in the draft, the Chicago Bears take defensive end . . . ’’

OK, yeah, I suppose there is some repressed frustration that my idea for a literal ‘‘press briefing’’ hasn’t caught on yet. But what I’m taking away from the dream is something much, much worse: the distinct possibility that the Bears are going to make a draft-day mistake by choosing a defensive player.

Many of the ‘‘experts’’ are convinced the Bears need help on defense. And because the draft is Thursday night, we’ve had to hear about it every waking moment for the last three months.

NFL.com has them taking Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones in the first round.

Three CBSSports.com analysts have the Bears taking Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus. A fourth has them selecting USC defensive end Nick Perry. So does FoxSports.com.

Many Chicago writers and broadcasters are favoring Mercilus, as are Mel Kiper and his hair. Kiper’s colleague at ESPN, Todd McShay, has North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples coming to Chicago.

Just to sum up: Not Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd or Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright.

Not any of the many tackles and guards who will be available when the Bears pick.

Really? From a team that gave up 105 sacks the last two seasons? From a team that had a left tackle, J’Marcus Webb, who allowed 12 sacks and was whistled for 15 accepted penalties last season? There’s no need for an offensive lineman to protect your most valuable asset?

Was anybody paying attention last season when Jay Cutler was healthy? Did that look like a Super Bowl offense to you? Not once last season did I say to myself, ‘‘If the Bears only had a defensive end to take the pressure off Julius Peppers, they’d win a championship!’’

What I recall saying was that it looked a lot like the same old Bears: not enough firepower at wide receiver and an offensive line that still doesn’t meet the level of excellence necessary to have a great offense.

If the ‘‘experts’’ turn out to be correct and the Bears take a pass rusher, all it will mean is that they and new general manager Phil Emery had been sipping from the same glass of dumb and Coke.

If the idea is that recently acquired receiver Brandon Marshall will answer all the problems in the passing game and that the team can stand pat offensively, well, that would be so Bears-like, wouldn’t it?

There’s a groupthink among the team and the prognosticators that’s a bit frightening, and my only hope is that Emery is sending out misinformation to fool teams as to the Bears’ intentions.

Some numbers for you:

The Bears ranked 27th out of 32 teams in sacks allowed and 28th in quarterback hits allowed last season. Very bad.

They were 17th in total defense last season. They were 28th in passing defense but 19th in sacks and eighth in opponent passer rating. Not so bad.

The easiest thing to do is to place the blame for the offensive troubles last season at the feet of Professor Kooky, former offensive coordinator Mike Martz, and say everything is going to be better with Mike Tice running the show and Marshall and Cutler picking up where they left off during their days with the Denver Broncos. The Bears point to the arrival of Devin Thomas as more proof of their devotion to the wide-receiver position, but he’s more of a special-teams player.

They have a No. 1 receiver in Marshall, provided he behaves off the field. That’s a big proviso.
They have Earl Bennett, who is a No. 3 receiver. And they have Devin Hester, who still wants to be a receiver, even though his numbers scream that he’s a special-teams player.

The No. 2 receiver, Matt Forte, is a disgruntled running back.

And that’s it.

Johnny Knox has bent over backward for the Bears and likely won’t play for them in 2012 because of that ghoulish injury
last season.

Roy Williams was supposed to be the answer last season, and I guess he was if the question is, ‘‘Who is the receiver whose one great season in Detroit looks
fluky now?’’

Sam Hurd has been unavoidably detained.

But all we keep hearing is that the Bears need help on defense. Tell me it’s just a bad dream.



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