Even after losing two starters and their defensive coordinator, I’d like to point out the Chicago Bears defense is still loaded.
Coming into the 2019 season, Pro Football Focus ranks the Bears’ pass-rushing unit as the 10th best in football, the defensive backfield as the second-best group in the league, and the rush defense as the best in football heading into 2019. This defense also features four defenders who landed spots on CBS Sports’ top-100 players.
So why are we still talking about the big, bad regression monster?
Andy Benoit (SI.com’s The MMQB) warns that regression is coming for the Bears defense this season. And his explanation is reasonable enough.
Losing Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio stings, as do the losses of safety Adrian Amos (Packers) and slot cornerback Bryce Callahan (Broncos). Part of what made Chicago’s defense a tip-top group was the continuity built during Fangio’s time running the show, as well as and the contributions from a strong secondary that secured the back-end of the defense. Tack on the difficulty in repeating forcing an other-worldly number of turnovers and unpredictability on the injury front, then it becomes clearer as to why there is a belief that defensive regression is lurking around the corner.
When pundits aren’t dissecting Mitch Trubisky’s arm or the legs of the Bears’ in-camp place-kicker candidates, a common theme that gets beaten into the turf is the idea that Chicago’s defense is due to take a step back in the 2019 season.
From a purely statistical point of view, the Bears defense should take a step back. Part of the projected fall-back is that last year’s did things that were simply historic. Let’s face it, historically great play varies from year to year on both sides of the ball. But here is the thing about that: Just because “regression” is coming, it doesn’t mean it is going to make them bad.
The two ideas aren’t mutually exclusive. Frankly, it’s lazy to lump the two concepts together.
With a highly ranked pass-rush, secondary, and run defense being led by a seasoned defensive mind with ample coaching experience, the Bears can take a step back and still be the best defense in football. My apologies to Lions, Vikings, and Packers fans whose bubbles I just burst with that statement. Better get used to it.