We had so much fun doing our Countdown to Kickoff series last season that we decided to do it again. If case you’re new to the series, we’ll do a roster preview as we count down the days until the Chicago Bears September 7th season opener against the Buffalo Bills.
And so it begins. We’re 99 days from the 2014 Chicago Bears season opener. To those who haven’t been paying attention since the season ended, that’s Lamarr Houston days from kickoff.
Phil Emery and the Bears were busy re-loading the Bears defense and defensive line in particular this offseason. One of the big acquisitions is defensive end Lamarr Houston, who the Bears signed away from the Oakland Raiders. Houston was one of the Bears’ top targets, signed to a five year, $35 million contract minutes into the start of free agency.
Houston is strong against the run, ranking in the top 5 among 4-3 defensive ends according to PFF’s 2013 rankings. Overall, he graded out as a +11.4, good to be tied for 11th among all defensive ends. While he only had 6 sacks in 2013, he tacked on 16 quarterback hits and another 41 hurries. Emery puts a big value on pressures.
What makes Houston a really interesting option for the Bears in 2014 is the Jared Allen signing. By adding a bona fide pass rusher like Allen, it give the Bears some flexibility to possibly slide Houston inside to the 3-technique, where he could really wreak havoc from the inside on passing downs.
The Bears really believe that Houston’s arrow is still pointing upward, which is why they made a big investment on him. Just as Emery rebuilt the Bears offensive line in 2013 with some key free agent acquisitions and draft picks, they’re taking the same approach to fix the defensive line in 2014.
Be on the lookout for our Countdown to Kickoff series as we continue to work our way to the season opener on September 7th.