Breaking Down the Bears 53-Man Roster: Defense
|Wednesday, September 9, 2020, 11:56 AM- -|
Tuesday, we looked at the Bears offensive side of the roster ahead of week one. Today we will look at the defensive side of the ball as we continue to break down the Bears initial 53-man roster. For the longest time, Chicago has been a defensive-minded football team that relies on its defense to win games.
That will continue to be the case once again this season as a few new acquisitions were brought in to make that side of the ball better. Ultimately, it will be up to the offense to pick up the slack to help this team reach the level they did a few years ago.
Defensive Lineman: Roy Robertson-Harris, Akiem Hicks, John Jenkins, Bilal Nichols, and Brent Urban. A healthy Hicks this season will go a long way into making this unit on the field better. The problem I see is filling the void left for Eddie Goldman following his opt-out. Nichols has done a great job picking up the slack, but who else will step in to help Hicks upfront.
The signing of Mario Edwards from New Orleans could be a piece added to this unit later in the season, and that right there could be a huge X-Factor. For now. It will be up to Hicks and Nichols to provide the thunder upfront as the rest of the unit looks to fill in.
Inside Linebackers: Joel Iyiegbuniew, Josh Woods, Danny Trevathan, and Roquan Smith. Make no mistake about it, the Bears linebacker group is not only one of the deepest in the NFL, but one of the best also. Not only do they have a pass rush, which we will get to in a minute, but they have a tackle machine in Smith.
Ever since arriving in the NFL, Smith has not only led the Bears in tackles but finds himself near the tops of the NFL leader board in tackles. He has a knack for finding the football and is always making plays. Next to him, you have Trevathan, who is more like a do-everything linebacker. He can make plays, stop the run and pressure the quarterback. Losing a guy like Nick Kwiatkowski will hurt the depth this season, but the Bears are loaded and ready to go once again.
Outside Linebackers: Trevis Gipson, James Vaughters, Barkevious Mingo, Robert Quinn, and Khalil Mack. Losing a player like Leonard Floyd hurts, but when you replace him with pass-rushing specialist Quinn you come out on top. Not only has Quinn been one of the premier pass rushers in the league the past five seasons, but you're pairing him with Mack to give the Bears a feared pass rush.
For the first time since Mack arrived, teams will not be able to double team him and focus on Mack. If they do, you will have Quinn running free from the other side, so it will be interesting to see how teams defend them. Mingo is a guy that would start for most teams in the NFL. It just happens that Chicago is not one of those teams. Mingo has had big seasons of his own, and having him coming off the bench makes the Bears defense that much more dangerous.
Cornerbacks: Jaylon Johnson, Duke Shelley, Buster Skrine, Kindle Vildor, and Kyle Fuller. Losing Prince Amukamara was a huge blow for this team, and the Bears knew they needed to fill that hole. They did that by drafting Johnson along with bringing in other faces through free agency. Johnson appears to have the leg up in terms of earning the No. 2 corner spot with Skrine and Vildor more prone to nickel coverage again.
That leaves Fuller on the outside as he is without question the teams best cover guy. Expect teams to avoid him early in the season as they may want to see what the rookie is made of on the outside. Should Johnson prove he is legit, the Bears secondary will be tough as teams will have to think twice about who to test in coverage.
Safeties: Deon Bush, DeAndre Houston-Carson, Tashaun Gipson, Sherrick McManis, and Eddie Jackson. Outside of Jackson, this was one of the position battles in camp that was competitive. For two years now, Chicago has been looking for a running mate to pair with Jackson in the back. They haven't found that player yet, but maybe they have him on the roster.
Bush and Gipson have seen the most reps alongside Jackson, but it appears Bush is the early favorite to start week one. McManis is also a name to watch in terms of getting more playing time. With a rookie starting at the corner position, you can bet the Bears safeties will be tested early in the season, so they must find someone who can not only play with Jackson but stick longer than one season.
Special Teams: Patrick Scales (LS), Pat O'Donnell (P), Eddy Pinero (K), Cairo Santos (K): Immediately, you notice two kickers on the roster. It would have been just Pinero, but with him injuring himself this week in camp, he will now be unavailable until October. That allows former Bears kicker Santos to return with hopes of doing the job.
Santos isn't the most accurate kicker in the league, but he has done a good enough job to stick in the league for eight seasons. He at least gives the Bears a reliable backup kicker for the exact circumstance they are in now. O'Donnell will continue to handle the punting duties as he continues to be one of the best in the game.
Special teams have also been an issue for Chicago, but last year it appeared some of those issues had been fixed. Let's hope that carries over into this season.