2016 Bears Defense Could Make Buddy Proud

| July 1st, 2016

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 1: Pernell McPhee #92 of the Chicago Bears celebrates after a sack during a game against the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field on November 1, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The Vikings defeated the Bears 23-20. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

“QB’s are over-paid, over-rated, pompous bastards and must be punished.”-Buddy Ryan.

For the first time in a number of years, the Bears have a chance to have the kind of defense that would make Buddy Ryan proud. They finally have a number of players who can, and should, get to the quarterback.

The Bears’ sack totals since they stopped running Ryan’s defense are a bit depressing. They’ve finished last in the league in sacks more than they’ve finished first and haven’t topped 50 sacks in a season since 1987. This year, however, they have a legitimate chance to top that mark and punish opposing quarterbacks.

The 2015 Bears pass rush was never really at full strength.

Pernell McPhee was borderline dominant before his knee injury. According to the team’s official statistics, he had 16 pressures and five sacks in their first eight games before being sidelined against St. Louis in November. McPhee was a shell of himself in the second half of the season, picking up nine hurries and one sack, while missing two games.

Coincidentally, when McPhee slowed down, Willie Young took off. Since the first game McPhee missed, Young had 18 hurries and 5 1/2 sacks after having just three pressures and one sack in the team’s first eight games. Lamarr Houston also had 5 of his 8 sacks and 8 of his 13 pressures in that time span.

If the Bears can get all three of them healthy at the same time, they should be able to attack the quarterback. Add in ninth-overall pick Leonard Floyd and their pass rush could be among the 10 best in the league this season.

Floyd might not immediately put up big sack statistics but his ability to drop in coverage and move around the defense should be able to allow the Bears to be more creative. He also offers something the other three don’t: speed off the edge. Just having another capable body (no offense to Sam Acho) will allow everyone to stay fresh.

One of the biggest keys to a great pass rush is the ability to rush up the middle – something that could be a strength of the team this year. With the addition of Floyd, the Bears should be abel to use McPhee in the middle of the defense, like Baltimore often did, with two of the others outside. Or, they could use a pass-rush package with all four players in long-distance situations.

McPhee isn’t alone in terms of players who can rush up the middle. Eddie Goldman was a pleasant surprise, finishing third on the team with 19 pressures in addition to 4.5 sacks. He said he plans on playing at 325 pounds this year after showing up at 340 last year. Rookie Jonathan Bullard should also give the team some juice up the middle after a productive senior season at Florida and an impressive showing at the combine.

“A great pass rush is simply a relentless desire to get to the QB.” -Buddy Ryan

Until Floyd develops, McPhee is the key to the Bears’ defense. You could just see Ryan loving him, couldn’t you? The guy who claimed he blocked a field goal last year simply because he felt disrespected. He took whatever path he could to get to the quarterback and kept coming until he got there. He is the face of what the Bears have built on defense with John Fox and Vic Fangio.

They have dogs.

Guys who fight.

Guys who play angry.

While they can’t do it quite like Buddy did, for the first time in a long time, the Bears have more than a couple of guys who can beat blockers and get to the quarterback. They have athletic guys and strong guys. They have players with a history of getting to the quarterback and players with the potential to be great at it.

For the first time in a long time, they have the potential to punish those pompous, arrogant bastards they see every week. They have the potential to make Buddy Ryan proud.

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