Training camp is scheduled for July 28, and for the first time in 18 years, the Chicago Bears won’t be in Bourbonnais. And because of the COVID-19 pandemic, fans won’t be allowed to attend practices at Halas Hall, either. With camp approaching, let’s take an early look at who’s on the team right now.
• 2019 stats: 8.5 sacks, 14 QB Hits, 47 tackles, 8 tackles-for-loss, 5 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 86.2 grade from Pro Football Focus in 16 games
• 2019 stats: 11.5 sacks, 22 QB Hits, 34 tackles, 13 tackles-for-loss, 2 forced fumbles, 68.5 grade from Pro Football Focus in 14 (with the Dallas Cowboys)
• Isaiah Irving, Barkevious Mingo, Trevis Gipson, Devante Bond, Ledarius Mack (yep, that’s Khalil’s brother), Kenadre Jones, James Vaughters
What to Watch For:
I think the Bears preferred preseason games to provide an opportunity for evaluation, but throwing Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles to the wolves on this defense presents a unique “survival of the fittest” challenge.
Admittedly, I was dismissive of Trubisky’s performance against the first-team defense. After all, that group gives fits to all quarterbacks. However, it turned out Trubisky’s camp struggles were a sign of things to come. I won’t make that mistake again.
We Really Like:
We Might Be Worried About:
Finding a developmental pass-rusher has been a bug-a-boo for the Bears.
Leonard Floyd was a solid all-around contributor, but didn’t develop into the pass-rushing threat you would have expected after the team traded into the top-10 to draft in him in 2016. In 2018, the Bears drafted Kylie Fitts as the developmental pass-rusher of the future. But Fitts didn’t even make it into the second year of his rookie deal with the Bears. And … that’s it. Those were the only two pass-rushers GM Ryan Pace has drafted since taking over in 2015 – until drafting Trevis Gipson last April. Therefore, the Bears had to make the Mack trade, then follow up with the big-ticket signing of Quinn two offseasons later.
Moreover, paying Mack and Quinn major cash means that – at some point – the front office needs to hit on a cost-effective pass-rushing option.
You’re up, Mr. Gipson.
Pro Football Focus’ Ben Linsey named the 10 quarterbacks were most affected by pressure last season. Of those quarterbacks, six happen to be on the Bears’ schedule in 2020. Those signal callers are Matt Ryan (Falcons), Matthew Stafford (Lions), Kirk Cousins (Vikings), Gardner Minshew (Jaguars), Deshaun Watson (Texans), and Ryan Tannehill (Titans).
In other words, the Bears – who have two of the NFL’s best pass-rushers – play eight games against the six quarterbacks most impacted against pressure. Go get ’em, gents!