Some huge has been overshadowed in the quest to uncover the identity of the Bears’ starting middle linebacker vs. the Cincinnati Bengals.
D.J. Williams? Jon Bostic? Probably Williams, based on myriad comments by everyone from Lance Briggs to Tim Jennings to Mel Tucker to Williams himself. Indeed, early handicapping points to Bostic spelling Williams on occasion as Williams comes back from missing all preseason with a calf injury.
But here’s the big deal:
The Bears actually have two true starter-grade middle linebackers. That has not happened arguably since Dick Butkus was drafted in 1965 while Bill George was still in place (that didn’t last particularly long).
Brian Urlacher was backing up Barry Minter in 2000 and became “Brian Urlacher” only after Minter was injured in week two. Until that point coaches had tried unsuccessfully stuffing him into the strong-side spot. Who knew?
When Urlacher went down late last season, Nick Roach played his way into a nice contract as a middle linebacker with the Oakland Raiders. But Roach flopped in his first try in the middle and was out of the job and back at his strong-side spot the next week after, notably perhaps, the Bears were annihilated by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Dante Jones behind Mike Singletary? Mmmm, not quite.
Linebacker depth has been a problem in recent seasons. At one key spot right now, it isn’t.