The Bears are switching back to their familiar 4-3 defense after successful run utilizing the 3-4 scheme. However, it’s going to take time to build back a dominant defense after a near total tear down of the front seven this off-season.
The Chicago Bears have some of their worst talent in their front seven since the deplorable defense of the 2014 season. That season saw the Bears line up with an aging Jared Allen at defensive, a hope and a prayer in Willie Young and Stephen Paea and Jay Ratliff at defensive tackle. On defense there was an aging Lance Briggs with D.J. Williams and Shea McClellin at linebacker. That season turned out to arguably the worst defensive unit in the history of the franchise. The infamous unit gave up two 50-point games in consecutive weeks against the Patriots and Packers respectively.
So what does the 2022 front seven have that is as concerning? An aging veteran in Robert Quinn, who might be traded and has been dealing with health issues throughout his career and a possibly emerging player in Trevis Gipson. The Bears absolutely not trade Quinn because in no way can they get back in value in a trade what they are likely to have to give away. Quinn could rack up double-digit sacks which is better than anything the Bears can get back in value for the 2022 season.
At defensive tackle the Bears have a major problem, one that could prove to be the undoing of the defense entirely in 2022. Justin Jones is the starting 3-technique, and he’s been a fringe starter with the San Diego Chargers over the last three years averaging around 30 tackles a year. For a player comparison those are numbers below the peak numbers of Anthony Adams when he was with the Bears. You don’t explicitly need a dominant 3-technique to succeed within this defense, but it sure does help. The Bears hopefully can find a future average to above average starter to round out the position.
At the 1-technique nose tackle spot Angelo Blackson has bounced around the league as primarily a backup player. At best the Bears have average talent at the defensive tackle position but it lines up more on the below average side of things.
The Bears are in good shape at one of the linebacker positions with Roquan Smith regarded by one NFL offensive coordinator as the best linebacker in the game because he does all four important linebacker skills at a high level. Smith should be in line for his first Pro Bowl appearance this year but may come up short because the defense as a whole likely won’t be that good.
At the other two linebacker positions the Bears have a major talent problem.
In four seasons Nicholas Morrow has started 29 of 62 career games and has never once eclipsed 80 tackles in a season. His career high is 78 tackles which is far below the play-making ability you want to see out of your starting WILL linebacker in a 4-3 defense. Morrow is also coming off a season-ending foot injury that kept him out for the entirety of the 2021 season. How will he look having missed a full season of football with his limit skill set?
At the other linebacker spot is career backup Matt Adams manning the SAM spot. Adams has started nine of 59 career games for the Indianapolis Colts.
The Bears are hoping Morrow can continue to up his game and not experience a major drop off in production. Realistically though there will be a complete turnover of the position from 2022 to 2023. The Bears were left in a major lurch in the salary cap thanks to Ryan Pace’s mismanagement.
They could only afford low cost one-year deals with players who are in the midst of prove or lose it status in terms of their NFL careers. The defense will most likely be the Bears’ primary focus in free agency and the draft.
For More Great Chicago Sports Content
Follow us on Twitter at @chicitysports23 for more great content. We appreciate you taking time to read our articles. To interact more with our community and keep up to date on the latest in Chicago sports news, JOIN OUR FREE FACEBOOK GROUP by CLICKING HERE