Chicago Bears: Five Most Important Defensive Backups

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Dec 15, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) is sacked by Washington Redskins defensive end Jarvis Jenkins (99) in the second half at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons won 27-26. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Jarvis Jenkins, DE

When I said that the linebacking situation is a mess, I didn’t mean, of course, that it was as much of a mess as the Bears’ defensive line.

There are so many questions marks facing the Bears defensive line, it’s difficult to conceive any way that they’ll be even an average unit this year. Can Jeremiah Ratliff stay healthy? Can Ego Ferguson and Willie Sutton contribute in a new scheme? What about Cornelius Washington? Can Eddie Goldman start? Who are the starting defensive ends going to be? Can anyone match Terry Williams’ nickname? The list is endless.

One thing that’s not a question, though, is Jarvis Jenkins. Given his track record, we know what he is. He’s a middling player, one who’s probably not going to embarrass you (important, after the last two seasons), but one who is probably not going to surprise you in a good way, either.

But he’s a proven, average commodity at 3-4 defensive end, which makes him incredibly valuable to a team that’s making the switch to a 3-4 front and lacks the personnel to do it.

A 2015 free agent addition, Jenkins comes from a 3-4 in Washington and adds experience to the Bears defensive line, which is composed mainly of young and inexperienced players such as Ego Ferguson, Cornelius Washington and Willie Sutton, especially in a 3-4 scheme. He’s not a pass rusher – only two sacks in three season in Washington – and graded out below average by Pro Football Focus.

Nevertheless, I’m putting Jenkins on this list for one main reason: No one else on this team that I can see is a proven 3-4 defensive end in the NFL. Ferguson is making the move to 3-4 end, as is Washington, who was a solid pass rusher in college. Sutton is rarely mentioned, and I think he’s destined for the scrap heap. Ratliff is at nose in our starting defense (more on that soon), and most other defensive ends like Allen, Houston and Young are shifting to outside linebackers.

While Jenkins is nothing special, he knows how to play 3-4 defensive end. For the Bears right now, that might be all it takes to be a valuable commodity on defense.

Next: The Rookie