Chicago Bears All-Decade Team: Defense and Special Teams

This is the second and final part of the Chicago Bears All-Decade team. In the first part, it was all about the offense. The list of offensive talent included franchise cornerstones in Matt Forte and Kyle Long, as well as trade acquisitions in Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall. Now, we get into the cream of the crop.

The Bears identity for almost the entirety of their franchise has been their defense. The 1985 Bears are widely considered the greatest defense of all time, which included Hall of Famers Mike Singletary, Richard Dent, and Dan Hampton. The mid-2000’s teams also had a great defense, led by the great coaching of Lovie Smith.

The present defense is great in its own right, with all-pro level talent at every level. This list is gonna be stacked with a lot of talent. Oh, and we can’t forget about the greatest returner of all time. Let’s get into the Bears all-decade defense and special teams.

Chicago Bears All-Decade Team: Defense and Special Teams

Defensive End: Julius Peppers

The Bears made a splash in the 2010 free agency period by snagging future Hall of Famer Julius Peppers. He was clearly the best player in the class and made the feared Bears defense even more intimidating. Peppers surely didn’t disappoint during his four years in Chicago.

He made three pro bowls and also made first-team all-pro in his inaugural season in the Windy City. Statistically, he put 37.5 sacks, 10 forced fumbles and even intercepted three passes. This was an easy pick for the Bears all-decade team, as Peppers was head and shoulders above everyone else on the defensive line during the decade. The only question with Peppers now is when he gets the call to Canton.

Defensive End: Israel Idonije

This was a tough pick, but this is a guy Bears fans absolutely love. Israel Idonije was mostly a situational pass rusher for the Bears during the early part of his career. In his first five years in the league, he only managed to accumulate eight total sacks. He started to break out during this decade though, as he set a career-high in sacks in 2010 with eight, which matched his career total up to that point.

He followed that up with two more quality seasons, getting five and seven and a half sacks respectively. It’s clear that he benefitted from the presence of Peppers. Many Bears fans remember Idonije as a great football player and an even better person. He started the Isreal Idonije foundation, which focuses on assisting poor communities in the Chicago area. Mad respect for Idonije.

Defensive Tackle: Akiem Hicks

Akiem Hicks came to the Bears in 2016 via free agency and it’s safe to say he exceeded expectations. Hicks was solid in his time with the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots, but nobody could’ve expected what he was about to do with Chicago. He set a career-high in sacks in year one and topped that total again the following year.

In 2018, he was rewarded with a pro bowl selection for his play. Hicks not only does a great job rushing the passer, but he also is a key component of the Bears strong run defense. In total, Hicks has recorded 24 sacks 56 quarterback hits and five forced fumbles. Unfortunately, Hicks was just placed on IR and will miss until at least week 15.

Defensive Tackle: Eddie Goldman

Let’s give some shine to a guy who’s instrumental to the success of the Bears defense. Eddie Goldman doesn’t put up pro-bowl numbers, that’s for sure. The Florida product has been the rock-solid centerpiece of one of the top run defenses in the league. My favorite Goldman moment was last year’s game against the Los Angeles Rams.

Rams Head Coach Sean McVay raved about the entire defense, going player by player. He left off Eddie Goldman‘s name though. Boy, would that come back to bite him. Goldman sacked Rams quarterback Jared Goff in the end zone for a safety, giving the Bears a lead they would never relinquish. A great moment for a guy who never gets the shine he deserves despite his value to the team.

Outside Linebacker One: Lance Briggs

Lance Briggs had to be included on this list. He’s a Bears legend and along with someone who I’ll be discussing in a minute, made up one of the greatest linebacker duos in the history football. Briggs made his mark in the 2000s but still managed to put up solid numbers this decade. He made the pro bowl twice in 2010 and 2011, which capped off a streak of seven straight seasons making it to the pro bowl. While he wasn’t the same player he was during his prime, Briggs still deserves to be on the list, as he is one of the greatest Chicago Bears of all time.

Outside Linebacker Two: Khalil Mack

You’re probably thinking that I’m crazy putting Khalil Mack on here. He’s only played one season in Chicago. However, that season was so dominant, and Mack himself is so dominant that I had to give him a spot on the squad. Led the team with 12.5 sacks. Led the team in forced fumbles with six. Makes everyone around him so much better. That’s all you need to really know about Mack.

Just go watch him play, and see how he embarrasses opposing offensive tackles. Mack bullies them in every way possible. He can use his speed and his explosiveness to blow by guys. Mack also has ferocious power and consistently pushes around guys that are bigger than him. We will probably be seeing Mack on the next Bears All-Decade team as well, and additionally could be seeing him in Canton someday.

Middle Linebacker: Brian Urlacher

Come on now. You thought I was going to leave the Hall of Famer off the Bears All-Decade team? Absolutely not. Brian Urlacher, like his partner in crime Briggs, only played a couple of years in the decade, as age was starting to become a factor. The wear and tear slowed Urlacher down a bit, but he still managed to fill his role well. He also made the Pro Bowl twice in the decade and showed that he could still hang in the league.

He even scored his second career defensive touchdown in the decade against the Tennessee Titans, picking off a Matt Hasselbeck pass and taking it to the house. There’s no question about the impact that Urlacher had on the Bears. He was the leading man on a defense that has always been viewed as one of the tops in the league. With all of his accomplishments and contributions, he was rightfully rewarded with induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Cornerback One: Charles Tillman

Charles Tillman always made life difficult for opposing receivers. His famous peanut punch was one of the most brilliant plays in all of football, despite it being so easy. Tillman would literally punch the ball, and it would always seem to pop loose, despite the runner trying to hold on as hard as he could. In 2012, he led the entire league with TEN forced fumbles.

That’s insane, especially for someone who plays in the secondary. “Peanut” had his best years in this decade, making two pro bowls and being recognized as an All-Pro in 2012. Bears fans will always remember Tillman for his on and off-field contributions and is also someone who has a slight chance to make it to the Hall of Fame.

Cornerback Two: Kyle Fuller

This was a difficult choice between Kyle Fuller and Tim Jennings. Due to Fuller’s dominant All-Pro season last year, I decided to roll with him. He had his fair share of struggles early on in his career, but has made huge strides and looks like one of the top cornerbacks in the game. Fuller’s dominant 2018 stretch was fun to watch.

The best game of his season happened against the Miami Dolphins, where he intercepted Brock Osweiler twice and almost was able to lead the Bears to victory. He’s off to a good start in 2019, as he already has two interceptions and has made key play after key play. Fuller is only 27 and will look to continue to get better.

Free Safety: Adrian Amos

I didn’t even think for a second to put Chris Conte here. I can speak for Bears fans that were still mad about the winner take all game against the Green Bay Packers for the division. One job Chris. Don’t let Randall Cobb get past you. Alright, enough of that. Adrian Amos was a solid member of the Bears secondary during his time with Chicago.

Like Goldman, he didn’t put up the great numbers that you see, but he was a solid presence in the back end. Pro Football Focus always had him as one of the highest-ranked safeties, due to his ability in pass coverage. Amos will go down as one of the few high notes during the tough middle of the decade for Chicago.

Strong Safety: Eddie Jackson

Another tough choice here between Eddie Jackson and Major Wright, because this is only Jackson’s third season in the league. However, due to Jackson’s playmaking ability from the safety spot, it has to be him. Jackson has shown superstar potential in his first two seasons, already having accounted for five total defensive touchdowns, which is unheard of from one player during a short period of time. It sure looks like Jackson is going to be a star in this league for a long time and is only just getting started.

Kicker: Robbie Gould

This is tough to write. Bears fans really miss Robbie Gould right about now. He made so many clutch kicks during his time and was near automatic when he trotted out on the field. Most would’ve bet the house that Gould would’ve made the infamous double doink kick that Cody Parkey missed last season.

Gould did start to struggle when his time in Chicago was near the end, which the Bears saw enough of, and sent him packing. Still, Robbie Gould is statistically one of the most accurate kickers of all time and nobody else deserves to be the kicker on this team.

Punter: Pat O’Donnell

Pat O’Donnell doesn’t get a lot of shine because of the position he plays, but he’s made some quality punts over the years. He played one of his better games during the playoffs last year, as he did his best to try and flip field position in a game that was very low scoring.

Return Specialist: Devin Hester

Did you expect anyone else here? Devin Hester is the greatest returner of all time. His highlight videos on YouTube are frequently watched by not only Bears fans, but football fans in general. His combination of blazing speed, wicked agility, and shiftiness made him one of the toughest guys to tackle in the game. Just watch this clip of Hester doing his thing and enjoy.

Bears All-Decade Defense and Special Teams

The Chicago Bears historically have dominant defenses. It’s no surprise that there’s so much star power on this list. There’s also a good mix of early decade performers and late decade performers. We could even see some of the younger guys on the list on the next Bears All-Decade defensive squad. What do you guys think of the list? Are there any names that you thought should’ve made the team that didn’t?

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