Training camp is that magical time of year when every NFL fan can have exactly what they want. If you are an optimist who wants to believe your favorite team is going to be good, there’s plenty of reason for hope. If you get your jollies on being negative (you know who you are), it’s not hard to find something to be pessimistic about.
Regardless of which side of the fence you fall on, today’s article will have something for you. Let’s go through the roster position-by-position and identify why you should be hopeful and why you should be concerned. We did the offense yesterday, so today will focus on the defense.
Reason for hope: Uhhh… this isn’t exactly an easy place to start. I guess it can’t be worse than last year, when the pass rush was arguably the worst the NFL has seen in the last five years after trading Robert Quinn away midseason. The Bears return Justin Jones and Trevis Gipson, who are both capable but not dominant players, and invested in a whole host of players between free agency (DeMarcus Walker, Andrew Billings, Rasheem Green) and the draft (Gervon Dexter, Zacch Pickens). Dexter in particular has a ton of physical tools and earned rave reviews throughout offseason practices, and could be a rookie who surprises. This group probably won’t be great at rushing the passer, but they don’t have to be to still be effective and help the Bears have a competent defense (as DBB’s Andrew Dannehy pointed out a few weeks ago).
Cause for concern: Barring a rookie stepping up in a big way, nobody on the roster even remotely resembles a top-level starter that can produce while drawing extra defensive attention. At best, this defensive line is a bunch of secondary pieces who can hopefully hold up against the run, but won’t offer much else. You know it’s bad when Terrell Lewis – who enters his 4th NFL season with 6 career sacks and is switching from LB to DE this offseason – drew the most hype of any defensive lineman during OTAs.
Reason for hope: The Bears signed two of the best linebackers available on the free agent market in Tremaine Edmunds and TJ Edwards. Both are solid all-around players who can defend the run and the pass, and they are just entering their primes as they prepare for their 5th NFL season. The depth behind them is pretty solid too, as Jack Sanborn impressed as a rookie last year and 5th round pick Noah Sewell drew positive reports from OTAs when he ran with the starters while Sanborn was out hurt.