During the NFL Scouting Combine last month, former NFL safety and current National Football Post columnist Matt Bowen visited with CSNChicago.com in the wake of coach Lovie Smiths press session.
Bowen had heard Smith discuss (to a limited point) what the Bears wanted for next season. What he also heard, in between the lines of the requisite we want to get better everywhere, was a stronger emphasis on upgrading the pass rush beyond the everywhere group.
Bowens conclusion at the time was that a course of action should be to look in free agency for the impact wide receiver the offense craves, where the Bears would be getting a proven pro vs. a far less certain rookie who cant be projected to have top-shelf numbers this first year. Then the Bears should be all over an edge rusher in the draft, which has a number of them.
And Bowen is going one step further in NFP with a statement that the Bears should be after Houston Texans end Mario Williams as a chance to pair with Julius Peppers for a truly rare combination of elite rushers in a defense built on just that.
Beyond the obvious of simply pointing to a really good player and saying, get him, the Williams scenario is a shot at something the Bears havent come close to since Richard Dent was at one end and Dan Hampton at the other.
Dent himself once said that all elite defenses have three true pass-rush threats, whether specific individuals or in a combo pack (like with a Ray Lewis). Dent-Hampton-McMichael. Eller-Marshall-Page (Minnesota). Greene-Greenwood-White (Pittsburgh). Davis-Jordan-Aldridge (Green Bay). Jones-Martin-White (Dallas).
The Colonels Rule of Three can be argued, but not what Williams could mean opposite Peppers. As noted previously, Williams has never won anything with the under-achieving Texans. But with Peppers and Henry MeltonAmobi Okoye, the Bears have the building foundation for a very, very good defense. Very.
Forget about the age theme with the defense. Charles Woodson is older than Peppers, Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman or Brian Urlacher. So is Ray Lewis.
The issue isnt whether the defense is too old. Its whether its good enough up front, which is why Smith rightly has pass rush as the high priority he does.
Getting Reggie White was a rare fortuitous chance that the Packers grabbed. So is a chance to pair Peppers with someone his equal or better as a pass rusher.
Whether if that someone is Williams or a first-round draft choice, a double-digit edge rusher added to what the Bears already have in place is arguably as much a golden opportunity as may come again in quite some time.