The Bears’ pass-rushing needs aren’t as glaring as they were this time last year, but I can’t say enough about how important depth is to a contending team.
As of now, Chicago is without the top two reserve pass-rushers it started last season with as Aaron Lynch and Sam Acho are both free agents. It’s conceivable that the Bears could bring either of those players back into the fold, but the team could also still go out and pluck someone out of the free agency pool. And there is always Option C, which is an outside-of-the-box idea that would certainly raise some eyebrows.
This is what Option C could look like:
When asked about OLB depth, Ryan Pace points out that #Bears can also be creative in how they use DE Roy Robertson-Harris. That’s an interesting thought.
— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) March 26, 2019
Bears GM Ryan Pace offered up the idea of using defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris as a pass-rushing outside linebacker, which isn’t all that crazy of a concept. After all, he was signed as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Texas-El Paso as an outside linebacker before bulking up and transitioning to defensive end. With that in mind, let’s take a moment to look back at what NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein wrote in Robertson-Harris’ profile leading up to the 2016 draft:
“He has the desired length, power and athleticism to play on the edge and it will be interesting to see if teams view him as a defensive end or a standup player. If Robertson-Harris can get coached up to improve his hands and pass-rush talent, he has the athleticism and talent to become an NFL starter rather than just an athlete with occasional flashes on tape.”
It turns out Zierlein’s suggestion was exactly what the Bears did. Robertson-Harris was coached up by John Fox, Vic Fangio, and Jay Rodgers, and has grown into a rotation piece on the Bears defense who would probably be a starter on other teams who don’t have the depth and talent Chicago has on its defense.
Robertson-Harris had a break-through season in 2018 with 3 sacks and 11 quarterback hits as he set career highs in games and defensive snaps played. That type of production in a short burst should get him some more looks, so what better place to get them than at his old position? Robertson-Harris has certainly earned more playing time in the coming season, and it will be up to new Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano to get creative in order to make it happen.