2015 Chicago Bears Grades
Eddie Goldman provides bright spot for rookie class
Bears fans have gotten used to poor draft classes that haven’t produced much for the franchise over the last several years. But that might have changed with the hiring of General Manager Ryan Pace. In his first draft class during the 2015 season, Pace might have found some bright spots.
One of those bright spots is defensive tackle Eddie Goldman who really shined among players on the defense last season. Goldman finished with 4.5 sacks, 13 hurries and a stuff during his rookie season, which is pretty impressive for a first-year nose tackle in the league. With the release of Jeremiah Ratliff, Goldman really started to shine.
The 22-year-old out of Florida State made the most of his playing time, as he started to really make his presence felt during the team’s final seven games. In those games Goldman really showed how he could use his leverage to push past offensive lineman and cause some disturbances in the backfield.
If Goldman is a “hit” for Pace in his first season, the future of the defensive line could be bright.
Bears struggles against the run continue
While the Bears defensive line wasn’t awful, there was still some struggles and one really big one. Several times the Bears failed to get a consistent pass rush as it was real spotty in games. But that wasn’t the biggest problem.
The Bears gave up an average of 4.5 yards per carry this season, good for 26th in the NFL as they were tied with three other teams. That means only three teams worst were San Diego (4.8), Washington (4.8) and New Orleans (4.9). In comparison the team that finished No. 1, the Denver Broncos, gave up just 3.3 yards per carry. If the Bears want to improve the overall defense, they need to start by stopping the run.
The struggles were pointed out all season long and two Bears interior lineman were ranked as some of the worst in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus:
Every interior defender ranked from best to worst this season.
Best: Aaron Donald
Worst: Xavier Cooper pic.twitter.com/CiRfMm69Kg
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 14, 2016
As you can see, Will Sutton was ranked as the 11th worst and Jarvis Jenkins was ranked as the 21st worst. There was a bright spot as Eddie Goldman was ranked 38th overall.
First year in the 3-4 defense
The Bears decided to make the transition from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense when they brought in coordinator Vic Fangio. It was a new style of defense the franchise has never seen before, so the big improvement likely wasn’t coming right away. There was some improvement but it’s not where the Bears want to be.
Part of the transition included some new faces. The Bears brought in Jarvis Jenkins on a one-year-deal and while Jenkins wasn’t awful, the veteran disappeared down the stretch. Jenkins had some of his best games in the early part of the season. It will be very interesting to see how the Bears approach him in free agency and if they bring him back for another year.
While the Bears may have their staple at the nose tackle position, the jury is still out on second-year players Sutton and Ego Ferguson. The Bears didn’t get a lot of production from the two this season so finding a motor on the defensive line that can get pressure on the quarterback is needed in this draft. Finding a great pass rusher would help this defense improve a lot. It’s just if the can find one in free agency or in the draft.