Chicago Bears: OLB Sam Acho Primed to Succeed in 2015


The Chicago Bears signed OLB Sam Acho this off season to a one-year free agent contract. The move came, and then went, without much fan-fare, but Acho could prove to be an extremely important player in the Bears’ defense.

Led by the hiring of head coach John Fox, the Bears brought in a completely revamped coaching staff this off season. Young and brilliant offensive mind Adam Gase will now control the offensive side of the ball, while well-respected defensive coach Vic Fangio will take things over on the Bears’ defense. Fangio will bring his base 3-4 defensive scheme to the Bears, but there are very few players on the roster who have experience in the 3-4 defense.

July 24, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio during training camp at the SAP Performance Facility. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

After spending the first four years of his career with the Arizona Cardinals, Acho is arguably the Bears player with the most experience in a 3-4 defense. He was an outside linebacker in the Cardinals’ attacking 3-4 defense throughout his four-year stint with the team, and now the Bears will count on him to make an impact on their defense.

Acho came out firing as a rookie with the Cardinals in 2011. He started all 16 games, finishing with seven sacks and 35 tackles on the season. He continued to be an every-week starter for the Cardinals in 2012, but finished with only four sacks that season. Only three games into the 2013 season, Acho suffered a serious ankle injury that forced him out of the rest of the year. He returned to the Cardinals in 2014, but he never got his starting position back full-time.

More from Chicago Bears News

Acho is far from a premier outside pass rusher. He is not the player who can be counted on to get consistent pressure on the quarterback. That being said, Acho has proved to be an above average pass rusher from the 3-4 outside linebacker position, but there is so much more to his game.

Acho is also a strong defender against the run, and he shows great natural ability in pass coverage. He is never going to be that elite weak-side rusher, but Acho has a very well-rounded skill-set that will come in handy for the Bears. On top of skills on defense, Acho is also an impressive special teams player. Whether it be a coverage team or return teams, Acho’s awareness on the field and skill-set combines for a lethal special teams player.

With his experience in the 3-4 style of defense, Acho may have the edge on his competition at the moment. That being said, the competition is going to be fierce at outside linebacker. The Bears also brought in free agent Pernell McPhee this off season. McPhee was a much more heralded free agent addition who is going to start and be on the field a majority of the time at one outside linebacker position.

Who starts opposite of McPhee is a huge question mark at this time, but Acho will certainly be in the mix. The Bears’ crop of converted defensive ends (Jared Allen, David Bass, Willie Young and Lamarr Houston) are all better pass rush options than Acho, but he has a major edge in every other department at the position.

Acho is the only proven strong-side outside linebacker on the Bears’ roster. With so many options at the outside linebacker position, I am sure that Fangio and Fox will mix things up quite a bit. That being said, the solid play and vast experience of Acho is going to make them want to keep him on the field more often than not. Do not forget about Acho, he is going to make a big impact on the Bears’ defense in 2015.

Next: Bears Land QB Connor Cook in 2016 NFL Mock Draft

More from Bear Goggles On