I've never understood the respect that Hunter Hillenmeyer garners as a Chicago Bears player and this isn't an article where I start praising Hillenmeyer. Far from it, although I'm going to take a wild leap of faith and say if you're reading this you gained that much from the title of the article.
Yes Hunter Hillenmeyer is squarely in my sights as a player who should be one of the casualties of the 53-man roster pair down. It's not a tough choice really, Hillenemeyer is simply a very bad linebacker and when Brian Urlacher is on the field it's magnified even more.
I'll make it more clear for you, Hillenmeyer may be the least physical middle linebacker in the NFL. In an offense that requires it's middle linebackers to play down hill, to attack their gaps and take on blockers in a physical manner, Hillenmeyer is a pansy. I'd like to use more harsh words to describe my dissatisfaction with HH, but that will suffice for now.
No one player on the Bears' roster attacks with so little effort, or physicality and that includes the defensive backs. Hillenmeyer consistently gets drive out of his gap when he does take on a blocker, and more often than not misses a tackle when he has the chance. His 90 tackles from last year are a complete illusion and a farce to the type of player he really is.
It was evident throughout the course of last year and is evident again during the 2010 pre-season in the absence of Urlacher. The only reason Hillenmeyer is on the field is because he knows the defense enough to get guys lined up properly and outside of Urlacher no one else on the defense is either willing (in the case of Lance Briggs he's not willing) or in the case of Nick Roach did not know how. Roach should be the back up at the middle linebacker spot and he should be coached up on the defense enough to where he doesn't make the mistakes he made in 2009.
To emphasize my point however, during the two games Roach started at middle linebacker in place of Hillenmeyer he had 15 tackles in each of those games. Hillenmeyer was injured and missed the Detroit game and the Atlanta game and in his place, Roach shined. He played down hill, physical one gap defense that is required of any defender in this defense and he's faster and more athletic in coverage than HH will ever be.
For a city that loves the middle linebacker position more than any other position on the field, HH is an absolute embarrassment when he's on the field. He's never been very productive even when he was a starter and no longer deserves to be the primary reserve off the bench when an injury occurs to the heart and soul of the defense.
Hopefully at some point the Bears can make the correct choice to cut their losses and move someone else into the position and groom him to be a better play maker than what Hunter Hillenmeyer has been. A good organization recognizes a weakness when it has one and put another younger player in position to succeed and learn to avoid such a monumental drop off in production and effort that Hillenmeyer represents.