Q & A: LB Jon Bostic talks about joining the BearsContinue reading.
Unimpressive preseason leaves Jon Bostic, Bears’ defense with a lot to prove in 2014
Jon Bostic paused when he was asked if how well-prepared he feels for this season. On paper and by the eye test in the preseason, the Bears second-year linebacker didn’t look like the playmaker he needs to be.
“I feel a lot more comfortable than last year,” Bostic said. “We made a lot of adjustments this offseason. Now I can pretty much play how I’m used to playing, the way I’ve always been taught to play. So getting those techniques back down has definitely been a little bit of a transition. But I’m getting a lot more comfortable out there every day.”
Bostic exemplifies the Bears’ defense heading into the 2014 season — a lot of ability and a lot of potential, but after a tough 2013 season and an unimpressive preseason, a lot of hope and still a lot to prove. It’s going to take a light-switch type of transformation when the regular season begins to erase doubts and trepidation about Bostic and the Bears’ defense as a whole.
“Just excited to get back out there,” Bostic said. “That’s the main thing. We’re excited to get back out there, play with each other again. We definitely put a lot of stuff on film last year that we weren’t happy about. We’re really just trying to get back and put what we know should have been on film.”
This is part of the quandary the Bears face entering the regular season. They see Bostic as one of their best linebackers, yet he doesn’t have a set spot on the field. He’s behind starter D.J. Williams at middle linebacker and is prominent in the nickel defense. It remains to be seen just how much Bostic is on the field. If he’s that good, will he get enough of an opportunity to force the Bears to find a spot for him.
“It’s not that tricky,” Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said. “I don’t look at it as a situation like. We have a good, young player who’s getting better and we’re saying, ‘Hey, you need to be prepared to play a lot of football for us.’ … At the end of the day, the video and the practice and game tape tells you who should be playing where.”
The Bears see Bostic as the prototype of their “interchangeable” linebackers in Tucker’s defense. But even that is a hard sell as this point — it always rings a little hollow to say a guy can play any linebacking position when he has yet to prove he can excel at even one.
“My main thing is to keep getting better every day — that’s the only thing I can do,” Bostic said. “I’ve got great coaches around me. I’ve got a lot of great players around me that I can definitely learn from. So I’m just trying to take advantage of that every day.”
The Bears’ hopes on defense hinge on a revamped defensive line that will funnel plays to the linebackers and take the heat off the secondary. For what it’s worth, the starting front four was the strength of the defense in the preseason, by the eye test and Pro Football Focus — particularly Stephen Paea (plus-2.9 in the preseason according to PFF), Jeremiah Ratliff (plus-1.8) and Lamarr Houston (plus-1.2).
The key is Jared Allen, who played only 29 snaps in the preseason. If he’s as good as he’s been, almost anything is possible. Jon Bostic might be a playmaker after all.
But the hope right now is that the defense won’t be as bad as it looked in the preseason and will turn it on when the bell rings Sunday against the Buffalo Bills at Soldier Field.
“I think that’s an accurate way to put it,” veteran safety Ryan Mundy said. “We have a lot of talent here. We have the veteran leadership. We have the leadership from our coaches. So we feel good about where we’re at. I would say the coaches feel good about where we’re at, too. Not it’s got to all come together and we’re excited about that.”