A Case For Optimism Regarding the Chicago Bears Pass Rush

Last offseason, it was offensive line concerns that kept me up at night. One year later, the other side of the line of scrimmage is making me itchy.

The Chicago Bears defensive line is a problem. And not in a good way. Because even though GM Ryan Poles brought in newbies by the handful to throw into the mix, holes along the line remain. Thus, concern about the state of the position group still occupies space in our mind. I imagine we’re not alone in feeling this way. Especially when Poles is on record strongly hinting that finding more pass-rush help.

But perhaps an internal candidate will emerge after taking advantage of an opportunity that would otherwise not be available if someone was truly entrenched at the top of the depth chart. One such player well-positioned to make the most of an open competition is Trevis Gipson.

Gipson, 25, put up these numbers in 16 games (9 starts) in 2021: 7 sacks, 7 tackles-for-loss, 7 quarterback hits. The Tulsa product posting those stats while playing just 49 percent of the defensive snaps gave me hope that he’d grow with a larger snap share. And even though Gipson’s defensive snap percentage rose to 59 percent, the sack numbers didn’t follow. However, Bears Wire’s Brendan Sugrue unearths a stat that allows me to have some semblance of optimism:

A very easy way to read this is that Gipson was one of the most double-teamed defensive ends in football last year. Gipson seeing the fifth-most double-teams among Des is such a mind-blowing stat to me. Of all the guys who you’d want to double up, I wouldn’t have put Gipson anywhere near the top. With all due respect to Gipson, his name isn’t one you’d expect to be in that mix. But NFL coaches were fearful enough to send extra attention Gipson’s way.

For what it’s worth, Gipson put up decent pressure rates last year. And his 11 QB Hits in 2022 were actually more than the seven he came away with the previous year. If you squint, you can see Gipson as a solid rotational piece as he enters the final year of his rookie deal. To be clear, none of this takes away from the fact that the Bears still need help at the position. And Gipson still needs to turn those pressures into production. Even if he does, Chicago shouldn’t bank on in-house improvements from players on its roster.

Going into an NFL season with nothing more than blind optimism and the hope that a new year will bring new results is silly. Sure, the lack of high-end pass-rush production sounds scary. It is my biggest worry about this team right now. But maybe it doesn’t have to be. And maybe it won’t if Gipson finds a way to turn back the clock to his 2021 self.

written by

Luis C. Medina, who you can find on Twitter at lcm1986, has been covering the Chicago Bears at Bleacher Nation since 2017. Since then, he has written about 3 head coaches, 5 play-callers, and 11 starting quarterbacks. Previously, Luis wrote about the Cubs and MLB at BN (2015-16) and worked in the Chicago Tribune sports department (2011-16). He also co-hosted a Cubs postgame show, Outside the Ivy, in 2019.

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