The readjack.com All-Bears Post-Ditka Team
September 15, 2009: DEFENSIVE LINE
RIGHT DEFENSIVE END-Alex Brown
RIGHT DEFENSIVE TACKLE-Tommie Harris
LEFT DEFENSIVE TACKLE-Jim Flanigan
LEFT DEFENSIVE END-Adewale Ogunleye
In contention: Mark Anderson, Trace Armstrong, Alex Brown, Philip Daniels, Jim Flanigan, Tommie Harris, Adewale Ogunleye, Bryan Robinson, Ian Scott, Alonzo Spellman, Keith Traylor, Ted Washington, Mike Wells, Chris Zorich
If the offensive line is about protection, the defensive line is about chaos. Pressure. Disruption. Penetration. A wall. This is the defensive line.
At end, we are proud to have Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye rushing the quarterback and stripping the ball. Brown arrived first, a fourth round pick in 2002 from the University of Florida. He earned a starting spot late in his rookie season, pushing veterans Philip Daniels and Bryan Robinson for playing time and contributing to Robinson’s move to the interior. He played in 15 games that season, and has played in and started every game since, with the exception of the 2007 season when the coaches named 2nd year player Mark Anderson the starter. (Brown still played in every game in ’07, starting two, and earning his starting spot back in 2008.)
His 91 starts are the most among defensive linemen in the PD era, and though he has not been the sack artist he was at Florida, his all-around play has made him one of the Bears’ most valuable defenders. His 37 and a half sacks is tied for second in the PD era, while his monstrous paws have knocked down 39 passes and wrapped up 274 tackles, a PD d-linemen record. He is also one of the best at creating turnovers: tied with Peanut Tillman for most fumbles forced (15), PD leader in fumbles recovered (10), and easily the most interceptions among PD d-linemen (5—no one else has more than 1).
Undrafted out of Indiana, Ogunleye became a Pro Bowler with the Dolphins before arriving in Chicago during the 2004 training camp in a trade for receiver Marty Booker. He has locked down the starting spot opposite Brown ever since, starting all 73 games of his Bears career. ‘Wale’ has been a better pass rusher than Brown, with 35 and a half in two fewer seasons, and season highs of 10 (2005) and 9 (2007)—Brown’s career high was 7 in 2006—and with nine forced fumbles and eight recovered, he trails only Brown (25) and Tillman (18) in combined fumbles. (Brian Urlacher also has 17.)
Both Brown and Ogunleye were named Pro Bowl alternates in 2005. Their stiffest competition at end on the All-Bears Post-Ditka Team came from Trace Armstrong (19 sacks in two PD seasons).
At tackle, there is an urge to take the 2001 Traylor/ Washington wall in the middle and just be done with it. But Washington played only one full season with the team (great as he was…1st team All Pro), and Traylor loses out to our two stellar tackles, Tommie Harris and Jim Flanigan.
The 2004 first round pick out of Oklahoma started all 16 games of his rookie year and has never relinquished the job. A unique skill set of speed and strength has helped Harris anchor the Bears’ interior line for five seasons and counting, with 24 and a half sacks, five forced fumbles, and four recovered. Admittedly, Harris has always seemed to underachieve, based on his incredible talent and the high points in his career (his performance in the 37-6 nationally televised molly-whomping of the Seahawks in 2006 turned John Madden into a tumescent mess). But even as an “underachiever,” Harris has been a true force, making three Pro Bowls and always forcing offensive coordinators to account for his menacing attacks.
Quick: what Bear notched the most sacks in the PD era? Give up? How about Jim Flanigan, with 40.5? Tis true. Despite his questionable heritage (a Notre Dame alum and Green Bay legacy), Number 99 was a reliable beast in the middle for the Bears from 1994 to 2000. During that time, Flanigan started in 88 games and collected 223 tackles, second only to Brown among PD d-linemen. Remember: it was the jettisoning of Flanigan and his tackle-mate Mike Wells in favor of free agents Washington and Traylor that had Bears fans bummed in the winter of 2000.
RJ AB PD COMMITTEE MEMBER JAKE BRESSLER makes his case for the 2001 Wall:
At defensive tackle, what about Big ole Ted Washington? I know Flanigan was on the team longer, but didn’t Washington have more of a lasting legacy? He was a beast for that ’01 division championship team. Traylor makes the squad just because of his interception against the Jags.