Last season the Bears were only able to muster up a paltry 31.0 sacks. Their primary pass rusher and person accounted for a big chunk of salary had only 7.5 of the 31.0. Julius Peppers’ play has hit a sharp decline and the Bears must now find a new primary pass rusher.
When you look at this year’s crop of free agents, there’s no shortage of quality defensive ends. Yesterday we gave you Michael Bennett and Greg Hardy as the two best who fit the Bears’ scheme. The team must come away with one of these two if they want to get the defense back to a respectable level.
Corey Wootton is a free agent and Shea McClellin is moving to linebacker. This leaves the Bears very thin on the edge. It’s safe to assume they will make every attempt to bring Wootton back. He’s coming off a hip injury and shouldn’t cost too much money. When healthy and playing at his natural position, he’s a productive player.
It’s also safe to assume the Bears will target a couple of defensive linemen in the draft. They will likely draft a defensive tackle in the first round but could look for some pass rush help in the later rounds. The problem with that is barring some great find, the player or players they draft that late will be rotational guys at best.
Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford are what stand in the way of the Bears winning their division. If they do not make things more uncomfortable for these guys when they see them four times a year then the Bears have no shot at winning the NFC North.
The way the NFC is stacked right now, the Bears really have to win their division to break this streak of missing the playoffs.
A great deal of blame was put at the feet of the safeties last year. Nobody held the pass rushers accountable enough. Chris Conte isn’t an elite player but he’s still serviceable. Conte has been successful in Chicago when other players up front were doing their jobs. If you don’t generate a pass rush, there isn’t a safety in the league who can keep up with NFL receivers.
A good defense is built from the trenches up. This means the Bears have to do what they can to find an established defensive end. Allow the draft to help rebuild the tackle position and help these young linebackers that were drafted a year ago.
Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker can not be put in another position to fail. He needs talent to compete and run the defense he wants to run. Expect the Bears to come out on opening day of free agency and make a splash with a quality end. The defensive line is the new offensive line. It’s broken but like we saw with Jermon Bushrod and Kyle Long last year, it’s easily fixable.