The Chicago Bears released their updated depth chart heading into the team’s second preseason game, and the changes were … non-existent:
Bears 3-deep unchanged for Arizona. (Not that it means anything anyway but I'm still gonna tweet it for entertainment reasons) pic.twitter.com/IxPe30eGlT
— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) August 15, 2017
Save for adding kicker Roberto Aguayo to the mix, there were no changes to the depth chart. So I extend my deepest apologies to those of you hoping Mitch Trubisky’s preseason debut would propel him to a promotion ahead of Mark Sanchez, or even Mike Glennon. Still, I found myself going row-by-row looking for something to hang my hat on regarding the three-deep depth chart until something stood out. And then it hit me.
We really haven’t brought enough attention to the accumulation of depth the Bears have acquired along the front seven. I suppose now is as good a time as any.
The Bears have 12 players in their front seven who have made at least 10 starts in a single season. It breaks down to five of the six outside linebackers, three of the six inside linebackers, and four of the nine defensive linemen on the three-deep chart. If we wanted to fudge the numbers to prove a point, we could add defensive end Mitch Unrein (who made nine starts last season) and linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (seven starts as a rookie last year) to show 14 of the 18 players slotted in positions along the front seven have pretty significant starting experience.
This includes players who have multiple years of starting experience such as Akiem Hicks, Jaye Howard, John Jenkins, Willie Young, Pernell McPhee, Lamarr Houston, Jerrell Freeman, and Danny Trevathan, and Dan Skuta.
Further, nine of these players earned grades of average or better from Pro Football Focus last season. It all adds up to something that seems like it could be important, especially when considering that two of these players – Trevathan and McPhee – are currently out of action because of injuries. Trevathan ended last season on injured reserve and could start this season on the PUP list, while McPhee is currently on the preseason PUP list because of a knee issue that flared up during physicals that took place when players reported to camp.
In an ideal world, the players at the top of the depth chart would handle starters snaps for 16 games without having to miss time due to injuries. Of course, the NFL is FAR from an ideal world. Instead, it is played under realistic circumstances wherein injuries pop up here and there during a war of attrition. That’s where depth comes in handy. Pro Football Focus didn’t think much of the Bears’ front seven going into this season, but you could argue having this kind of depth makes things look better than originally perceived.
A mountain of injuries handcuffed the Bears and hindered any chance of success the team could have last year, because the drop off from the starters to reserves was too much for some of the players to handle. With the addition of three new front seven personnel and a year of experience under the belts of a handful of young players, the 2017 Bears could be in a much better position to combat the inevitable injury issues that await.