The storied history of the Chicago Bears has a common theme. The foundation of every great Bears team was a great defense. From 1920 until now, the pride of the Chicago Bears has hinged on the defense’s ability to step onto the football field and try not to let the opponent score a single point.
When the team traded for Khalil Mack in 2018, the Bears defense showed flashes of greatness and at times, dominance. However, injuries set the defense back in 2019, preventing it from reaching the expected heights but still holding firm.
New additions this off-season could cause a resurgence of the 2018 defense, or possibly better. Are the Monsters of the Midway back? We’ll find out come September, but until then, here are some predictions.
Akiem Hicks: 58 tackles, 9 sacks, 2 FFs
Bilal Nichols: 32 tackles, 5 sacks, 1 FF
Eddie Goldman: 35 tackles, 2.5 sacks
Roy Robertson-Harris: 25 tackles, 2.5 sacks
It all starts in the trenches. The defensive line is a catalyst for a great defense, and possibly the essential part of continued dominance. Having Akiem Hicks back and a healthy Bilal Nichols is huge for this defense.
This is a squad that has proven they can generate pressure to make the secondary’s jobs easier, as well as being one of the best against the run. They were stingy in run defense last year, allowing only 3.9 yards per rushing attempt (tied for 4th in the NFL).
Khalil Mack: 55 tackles, 16.5 sacks, 6 FFs
Robert Quinn: 36 tackles, 10 sacks, 2 FFs
Trevis Gipson: 17 tackles, 2 sacks
When asked about his star LB, Chicago Bears OLB coach Ted Monachino recently said Khalil Mack is training like he’s never seen anyone train before. After a down year for the All-Pro linebacker, the superstar pass rusher feels like he has something to prove. It’s reasonable to expect that Mack will have a career year, especially after the team signed Robert Quinn – forcing offensive lines to make some tough choices. Bears fans should be excited about this.
Roquan Smith: 137 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 INTs
Danny Trevathan: 105 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT
Resigning Danny Trevathan was an underrated move by the Bears front office. The linebacker is the leader of the Bears defense and has been since he arrived in 2016. Trevathan only turns 30 this upcoming season, and it’s important to have him on the team for a couple more years before he passes the torch to Roquan Smith.
As for Smith, he’s getting better as time goes on. His 2019 season put him on pace for 135 tackles before getting injured and he has proven he has the skillset of an elite linebacker.
Kyle Fuller: 65 tackles, 17 passes defended, 5 INT’s
Jaylon Johnson: 50 tackles, 11 passes defended, 2 INT’s, 2 FF’s
Buster Skrine: 55 tackles, 7 passes defended, 2 INT’s
When discussing the secondary, it’s important to look back to when the Bears signed Buster Skrine a year ago. Fans gave Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace a lot of criticism. However, Skrine’s exceptional play throughout the season proved Ryan Pace’s judgment correct and proved to be a great pickup for the team.
The team’s second-round draft pick Jaylon Johnson is a player who will make an immediate impact. His physical play style drew comparisons to the likes of Peanut Tillman. Comparing Johnson to Tillman is a high standard to live up to, but we should see him take Prince Amukamara‘s place and give a good account of himself in his rookie campaign.
Eddie Jackson: 55 tackles, 12 passes defended, 5 INT’s, 1 FF, 1 TD
Tashaun Gipson: 45 tackles, 7 passes defended, 2 INT’s
Looking back at 2019, it was obvious Eddie Jackson was playing out of position much of the time. With two free safeties lining up as the starters, he was forced into the box too many times. Gipson has experience at strong safety, which should allow for Jackson to go back to being the dangerous ball-hawk DB that he is.
How good will the defense be?
Every player that Ryan Pace added to the Bears defense this offseason has been a positive addition to ensure his current playmakers to flourish. Robert Quinn will help Khalil Mack in taking the pass rush to a new level. Tashuan Gipson will allow Eddie Jackson to make game-changing plays. Jaylon Johnson is the physical cornerback the team needs to make opponents stay on their toes. Barring injuries, we can expect this defense to be at least a top-five in the league, with the potential to be number one, as in 2018.