If there were any questions about the chances of Jon Bostic becoming the starting middle linebacker for the Chicago Bears next season, they’re all gone now due to the injury to D.J. Williams, who was picked up in free agency in order to replace Brian Urlacher.
Williams isn’t out for the season, but his calf injury appears to be slightly serious, which means all eyes are going to be on Bostic now, who was always in the picture of inheriting Urlacher’s place, just not right away.
The 50th overall pick in the 2013 draft hasn’t been extremely impressive or disappointing in practices so far, but the general idea was to make him the team’s leading inside linebacker, but probably in a season or two. Williams was the short-term insurance for Urlacher; a veteran linebacker, coming on a deal that pays less than $1 million a season, without any guaranteed money.
Williams probably still has a role to play in the Bears’ season, more likely than not. He’s also quite versatile and has no problem moving on to the outside and filling one of the roles over there. Bostic, coming out of Florida, is a bit more specific in his position orientation, although everything is speculation until we see him in NFL action for the first time.
The Bears had the fifth best defense in the NFL last season, allowing 315.6 yards per game; they ranked third in scoring defense, allowing only 17.3 points per game. However, it’s hard to figure just how big Urlacher leaving them will be. While his skills and speed were undoubtedly diminishing, there’s leadership and experience that can’t just be replaced. Bostic, physically, looks like a right fit for one of the most consistent unit in the NFL for almost a decade now. However, actually replacing everything Urlacher meant to this team is going to take a lot longer, and be much more difficult.