Perhaps no player is better prepared to deal with the thought of losing his job than Bears defensive end Israel Idonije. No player better exemplifies the cliche of lunch pail player than this Bears player.
Idonije has been nothing short of a strong stable reliable player his entire career in Chicago. He plays well and gets the most out of his ability. He's not special by any means but you can count on him to play hard every single down.
Football Outsiders called Idonije "outlandishly under appreciated" and using their stat metrics it's easy to see why. Idonije made more total plays on the season than Peppers, and more defensive stops than Peppers. In the pass rush game according to FOA Idonije had more combined sacks and hits on the QB than Peppers did. In run defense Idonije made more plays 40 to 22 over Peppers.
What does this all mean? It means Idonije needs to do a better job at making the most of his opportunities. He had more hits than Peppers, but Peppers had more sacks meaning Peppers got home more often. Still the overall production and pressure from the side opposite Peppers is there and it makes it even more obvious that Shea McClellin is going to have to come in and have a huge impact to knock off Idonije as the starter.
McClellin's the future starter due to Idonije's age and probably won't show up to make an immediate impact as a starter his rookie year. Basically look for McClellin to hammer down the third defensive end role, which has been extremely key for the Bears in the past.
If McClellin is unable to supplant Idonije from the starting DE spot it shouldn't be of any major concern. The Bears need a key contributor as a third defensive end. Last year the Bears had to try and create a third DE from UDFAs Nick Reed and Mario Addison, both turned out to be deplorable.
Idonije will still have a key role on the team and his overall veteran experience likely keeps him in the starting role.
One thing is certain, Idonije will not be easy to beat out for his starting spot and will do everything possible to make it hard on McClellin to take his job.
The left defensive end will usually have more tackles in the run game than the right defensive end. The left end is on the offense's right side, which is where the overwhelming majority of offenses put their tight end, making it the strong side. Therefore they run to their strong side (right of center). So the left end will usually have more opportunities for tackles. Add the fact that Julius Peppers is the right end, and teams certainly will run away from him and favor the right side as their strong side. Therefore, the fact that Idonije has more tackles in the run game, as I frequently read in articles, says nothing of his production in comparison to Peppers. That is, if Peppers plays the left side, his tackles could be much more than Idonije's are from the same spot. Idonije is a solid left defensive end, but comparing his tackles to Peppers is irrelevant with illustrating that point. It would be better to compare his tackles to other left ends in the league with his type of gap responsibilities.
@paymonm Your basic assumption and premise is correct, however the amount of times team run away from Julius Peppers and at him was negligible from a statistical stand point. Teams did not run 80% of their plays to the right or even 65% of their plays to the right side. It was not enough of a statistical split that your hypothesis isn't supported by the data.