Entering this week, the Chicago Bears’ chances of reaching the playoffs are slim to none, but that doesn’t mean it’s time for these Bears to enter hibernation just yet. Instead, it’s time to find out what the current coaches and players are made of.
There is no question that there will be changes before next season. What exact changes will take place? That all depends on how this team performs down the stretch. A lot of people believe that Chicago is too talented and should be much better off than it currently is, but I argue that maybe this is not the case. On paper, yes, the Bears have offensive talent. But that talent hasn’t translated into points, with the Bears averaging only 21 points per game. Something is holding this unit back. On the defense, this team is lacking talent at every level—whether it be the defensive line, linebackers or the secondary. There isn’t enough talent on the defensive side of the ball to compete against the high-powered offenses in the NFL.
This week, I had the privilege to talk with someone who is familiar with the Bears organization, Adewale Ogunleye. Ogunleye, who was recently inducted into the Indiana University Hall of Fame (Class of 2014), was defensive end. He started his professional career with the Miami Dolphins, but was traded to Chicago in 2004 and played six seasons with the Bears. He finished his career with 389 tackles, 67 sacks and 17 forced fumbles. Here is his insight on the current state of the Chicago Bears.
Three & Out with Adewale Ogunleye
WD- Since defense is your expertise, I will stick to that side of the football. What do you believe is the reason why this Bears unit has struggled the past two seasons?
AO- The Chicago Bears defense is lacking leadership and playmaking ability. When I watch that unit, I don’t see the fire that is needed to play defense in the NFC North. It takes pride and a whole lot of hustle to win in this league, and I don’t see it. Also, it doesn’t seem like the current players have bought into Mel Tucker’s system. It’s a shame because there are some talented guys on that unit.
WD- You played under Coach Lovie Smith, what do you believe he would have done to assist this unit if it was struggling like this when he was in charge?
AO- It’s hard to put Lovie Smith into this scenario. But knowing him… I don’t see his defense allowing two 50-point games back to back. He would have been so ashamed of that type of effort that I’m sure someone would have lost his starting position. That probably would have opened some eyes and the guys would realize that type of effort was unacceptable in the Windy City.
WD- Lastly, Lance Briggs is officially done for the year, and a lot of reports say that he could have played his last game in a Chicago Bear uniform. Can you comment on how Lance was as a teammate? What was it like playing with a potential Hall of Fame linebacker in Chicago?
AO- Lance Briggs was one of the greatest linebackers I have ever seen. He was such a good teammate. He has a big heart and will support anything you ask him to. I hope he hasn’t played his last down in Chicago… but if he has… It was one hell of a ride and I was honored to have a front row seat for six seasons.
This week, the Bears play the Dallas Cowboys in their second-straight Thursday game. Hopefully, the outcome is better than the beating they took on Thanksgiving. To be honest, I don’t what type of performance to expect from the Bears, but it will be interesting to see if this team will go down swinging, or if it gives up on the remainder of their season. Tonight’s when we start finding out.
Side Note: It appears that the Bears will be without Robbie Gould (NFL’s 8th Most-Accurate Kicker in History) for the first time since 2012 as he is currently inhibited by a groin injury. They tried-out rookie punter Pat “Megapunt” O’Donnell in practice, but decided to sign veteran Jay Feely instead. Feely has kicked for 13 seasons in the NFL. Throughout his career he has made 329 field goals on 398 attempts.
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