Next man up for the Chicago Bears
In the NFL, when someone goes down with a season-ending injury, there’s usually a time period of worry and concern over whether the injured player will return to his same playing level. After that time period subsides, the focus shifts to the next man up. Defensive tackle Henry Melton suffered an ACL tear in his knee during the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he will miss the rest of the year.
The Bears have made the obvious decision of staying within the organization to replace Melton. I say obvious because when you bring in a free agent replacement, you run the risk of them not being as familiar with the system as you thought and then they perform poorly. By staying in the organization, the Bears have avoided that scenario. Defensive tackle Nate Collins has been named the starter for Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions, and Collins has a test ahead of him in the Lions’ offense.
Collins is smart, and he knows to be disciplined instead of making an immediate impact and trying to do everything at once. Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker knows the four-year tackle can be a threat, as he coached Collins when Tucker was the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. That is key because Tucker knows how to best utilize Collins, and will put him in positions to be productive. So far, Collins has been worthy of a starting spot. He forced Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson to fumble in week two, and has amassed seven tackles. I like what I have been seeing of him, and I’m sure Bears fans will echo that sentiment.
The Bears have guys besides Collins to help out, like Corey Wootton, who may slide in from defensive end on occasion Sunday, Stephen Paea and undrafted rookie Zach Minter, who will be a part of the rotation against the Lions. Head coach Marc Trestman has the utmost confidence in this rotation and Collins, and believes he has the awareness required to know the different assignments and pass rushes that are featured in this defense. He won’t change his approach, and he should not. The newly named starter will do very well in my opinion, and I think the Bears made the right decision in going to Collins. This is an exciting time for him, as he gets to make his first NFL start against an offense that features a playmaker in Matthew Stafford at quarterback.
He will hold his own, however, and not be intimidated. The Monsters of the Midway rarely are, and I expect the defense to come out of Ford Field with a victory. Going forward, it is unknown whether the Bears will stick with Collins or rotate him along with some other guys. For now, he gets his shot. It is up to him to make a lasting impression, and I believe he will come out and do just that.