D.J. Williams may be, in coach Marc Trestman’s words, the “lead dog” in the battle for the middle linebacker spot, but make no mistake about it, Jonathan Bostic is the future in that position, while Williams is just renting it right now.
In his rookie season, Bostic was to be eased into the rotation. When Williams got injured and his season went down the drain, Bostic was thrust into the starting position.
As a starter, Bostic showed flashes of what the Bears expected from him, but he also made the typical rookie errors, and at times looked lost.
This season, defensive coordinator Mel Tucker looked to take advantage of Bostic’s natural instincts, so he made some scheme adjustments. “We’re slowing his progressions down a little bit in terms of his run fits,” Tucker said. “We’re asking him to stay square a little bit longer and just mirror the ball, fill when needed and then fall back when needed. So I think that’s allowed him to be more of a natural linebacker off the ball.”
Bostic knows that adjustments were made specifically for him. “Some adjustments were made for me and it’s a lot more natural for me now,” he said. “A lot of the stuff we were doing last year was a little unorthodox to me. I hadn’t really done it before. So I had to think a lot. But this year I can react more and play how I’ve always been taught.”
Even though Bostic is considered the future of the Bears defense, the future could come sooner than previously thought. Trestman spoke about it during minicamp. “Bostic is competing at a really high level and has worked really hard and is right in the mix, no doubt about it,” he said.
The Bears have certainly given themselves options on defense. General manager Phil Emery wanted depth and athleticism on defense and that is exactly what he has on paper. Titles aren’t won on paper, however, so we still need to see the finished product on the field before real excitement can be generated.