Black and Blue all over: Harris' quiet start

Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert

We spent a lot of time this summer tying the success of Chicago’s defense to the performance of defensive tackle Tommie Harris, who was hoping to overcome knee problems and rebound off a sub-par year. But we should probably recognize the conclusion drawn by Dan Pompei in the Chicago Tribune: The Bears are playing better defense this season without much of a contribution from Harris.

In fact, the Bears have only one sack from any player -- Israel Idonije -- who was lined up in the “three-technique” position Harris plays. Defensive line coach Rod Marinelli said that Harris is providing contributions that don’t show up on the stat sheet, but to this point it’s not clear if Harris will return to his status as an elite defensive playmaker.

Do the Bears need him to do that in order to accomplish a defensive turnaround? Or have they improved enough in other areas to mitigate his lack of progress? As we noted earlier this week, we’ll get a good answer to that question Sunday night at Atlanta.

Continuing around the NFC North: