Jon Bostic – The Time is Yours!
“There’s no great loss without some small gain.”
-Laura Ingalls Wilder
That quote comes from the Little House on the Prairie series, but it reflects a lot of where the Chicago Bears are right now. Injuries seem to be a reoccurring theme since 2011 and in today’s NFL, in spite of the increased emphasis on player safety, its something that is simply unavoidable.
This year has been especially severe, since virtually every level of our defense has lost at least 1 key component, barring our Safety’s who have failed to make a significant impact (at least in a good way). In Week 7 vs the Washington Redskins Lance Briggs, not only the best player on our defense but also the glue that held them together – went down with injury. It was a new experience for him, picking up the reins to a job once held by Brian Urlacher: calling plays and spearheading the defense. He’s been estimated to miss at least a month – likely more – and with that the reins are once more passed down to another: Jonathan “Boom” Bostic.
Phil Emery’s 2013 2nd Round pick now takes the field to lead this defense. It’s tough to express in mere words the significance of what he is being asked to do. Simply playing Middle Linebacker in Chicago is a thing of legend, with several Hall of Fame/Future Hall of Fame players preceding him. Filling the shoes of Brian Urlacher, the most recent legend in a long line of them, is no simple task for anyone. Much like Andrew Luck last year – filling in the shoes of Peyton Manning -Bostic must now be asked to take the place of not only a legend, but an icon of the city and the face of the franchise for the better part of the past decade.
What better game to do it than against the historic rivals north of us, in Lambeau Field?
There has been much cause for concern over the defense this year, and rightfully so. In spite of many of the same faces returning this year they look like an entirely different group than they did just one year ago. The pass rush has been absent all season, our best LB, our top three DTs and our star CB have all been taken out with injuries. While Tillman seems to be a week-by-week case, it’s becoming more obvious that you can’t bank on him playing the entire game, if at all. His knee has been problematic all season and in spite of his passion and ability to play through injury, at some point we’re all only human and can only do so much.
So where is the gain, you ask?
To begin with, the simple fact we have a young rookie fresh and ready to fill in at a position suddenly in need. It’s not every day you have an adequate replacement for an injury, and while there are still holes to fill and Bostic still has much to learn, he looks more than capable of not only impacting the field with his play, but also keeping the defense together, getting his guys lined up and commandeering the defense. Sure he’s a rookie, sure he’ll make mistakes, but you have to learn at some time, and what better time than now?
There was some discussion during the offseason of whether or not Bostic would even see the field. And while Emery lined up veterans across the board to fill in at LB, and they have until now been the best collective unit on defense, Bostic now getting his shot is something that will pay dividends in the near future.
First, going into the bye week gives Bostic extra time to prepare and be ready, having spent 8 weeks into the season by the time he makes his start, he’ll be more familiar with things than if he had started fresh off the bat. He also has a good cast of veteran LBs and coaches around him to learn from and assist him through the transition.
This is yet another blessing in disguise as the list of FA’s this coming offseason is long and the chances of even half of them returning is slim. If Bostic is who Emery envisioned when he drafted him, he will have plenty of years left playing the middle of the field for the Bears. This year he’s a rookie, next year this will be his Defense. He needs this moment to learn, to grow comfortable calling plays, to take the reins from those who have come before and run with it.
This is a transition into a new era. While still in the beginning phases and not very pretty, growing pains rarely are. What matters though, is adversity is one of the best ways to bring teams together. Nothing stimulates personal or intellectual growth faster than having a challenge that seems larger than life and being forced to come together as a team to overcome it. It’s a situation that forces you to grow up and mature quickly. In spite of the lackluster start to the season on defense, there is an immense opportunity here. Jon Bostic – the time is yours!