Chicago Bears: Five Most Important Defensive Backups

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Jan 19, 2015; Lake Forest, IL, USA; New Chicago Bears head coach John Fox speaks during a press conference at Mugs Halas Auditorium. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday, Bear Goggles On staff writer Derek Hanfland stepped to the plate and took a crack at tagging the starting 11 on defense for the Chicago Bears in 2015. Now it’s time to take a look at who potential replacements are if any of those starting 11 suffer injuries or play like the Bears defenses of 2013 or 2014.

The Bears defense of 2015 is going to be an overhaul on the fly, and odds are it won’t go well for this year, and possibly even next year. The roster is stocked with 4-3 defenders (and not too many good ones, at that), and the team was in desperate need for new personnel after hiring Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio and his 3-4 scheme in the offseason. Fangio is now stuck cobbling together a serviceable defense out of the 4-3 ingredients left behind in the Mel Tucker cupboard.

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They picked up some good players in outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, inside linebacker Mason Foster and safety Antrel Rolle, but those three aren’t enough. Fangio has his work cut out for him, as the Bears defensive line is a wasteland, handicapped by possessing a few too many 4-3 defensive linemen and a general lack of talent and experience in a 3-4. The linebacker situation is a mess, hobbled by large question marks at inside linebacker and whether several former defensive ends can shift to outside linebacker.

The secondary is about the only unit that’s settled. The only problem is that the talent is suspect, as the Bears have one aging safety (Rolle) and one mediocre safety (Ryan Mundy), another mediocre cornerback (Alan Ball) and one cornerback who parlayed two good years into a sizeable contract and then resumed playing sub-par football (Tim Jennings).

What this boils down to is that the backups included on the following list (and others) are going to get their shot. Maybe one or two of the weak starters turn into a solid player and cements his position on the Bears defense. But it’s practically impossible that every one of them becomes unquestioned starters. There are too many holes, and too many interesting options that aren’t starting, for other players not to get a lengthy look in the new 3-4 Bears defense.

So on that note …

Next: Help on the Back End