Postseason Positional Analysis Part VI: Defensive Line

| January 18th, 2016



The development and production of Eddie Goldman was one of the best things to happen to the Bears this year. Goldman was billed as a run-plugging nose tackle and a two down player. He proved to be much more. He had 4.5 sacks and was third on the team with nineteen quarterback pressures, according to the official statistics released by the team.

He’s technically listed as a nose tackle, but he’s just as much an end in the Bears defense, lining up over the guard as often as he lined up over the center. Outside of what is considered their base defense, Vic Fangio used Goldman similarly to how he used Justin Smith. Forget about what positions they’re listed at, Smith was Fangio’s anchor in San Francisco and Goldman may be his anchor in Chicago.


The Bears have a few players who could be rotational but no other lockdown starters.

Jarvis Jenkins won fans over with a 10-tackle, two-sack performance against Seattle in Week Three but really didn’t do much the rest of the season. He was fourth on the team with 17 pressures, but a major liability against the run.

Will Sutton didn’t seem to make an impact this season, but was voted second at three-technique tackle by the NFC North scouts polled by Bob McGinn, finishing ahead of Sharrif Floyd in what I can only figure was a clerical error. Sutton was OK against the run but managed just three pressures.

Bruce Gaston showed flashes as a pass-rusher, even destroying Evan Mathis to sack Brock Osweiler this season, but he couldn’t hold up against the run. Mitch Unrein was the opposite, stout against the run, but offered nothing on passing downs.

Two young players the Bears were relying upon, Ego Ferguson and Cornelius Washington, missed most of the season with injuries. Ferguson held up well against the run before being injured against Kansas City. Washington was going to be a pass-rush specialist but played just one snap.


If Goldman is the Bears version of Smith, they need to find their version of Ray McDonald. Fangio plays more of a 2-4 than a 3-4 and to be at their best they need two defensive linemen who command extra attention against the run and provide pass rush.

This is a good time to be in the market for that kind of defensive linemen. There are expected to be quite a few available in free agency. Assuming he’s given a clean bill of health, Muhammad Wilkerson would be a home run and should be their top target in free agency. If they don’t want to spend so much money, they could go after former Fox draft pick Malik Jackson, who will only be 26 when next year begins.

There are also considered to be a number of players that would fit the bill in the draft, even if they don’t use the 11th pick at the position.

The Bears defensive line ranked as the worst in the league by the metrics used by Football Outsiders. They were 23rd against the run and 26th in yards per attempt. They have one rock in Goldman. They need another. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Bears bring in a free agent and spend a high draft pick at the position.

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