Sam Acho Days Until Chicago Bears Regular Season Opener


We are now over the half-way mark. With July coming to a close, and training camp literally right around the corner, the finish line is near. Only 49 days until the Chicago Bears open the 2015 regular season with a Sunday afternoon match-up against the Green Bay Packers. Now, for a look at #49 for the Bears, new outside linebacker Sam Acho.

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In a deal that could prove to become an absolutely massive steal, the Bears signed Acho to a one-year contract worth only $825,000 this off season. Acho joins the Bears after spending the first four years of his career with the Arizona Cardinals, where he succeeded with the team in their attacking 3-4 defense.

Under new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, the Bears are making a transition to a new-look 3-4 defense. Unfortunately, a large majority of their defensive players appear to be best suited for the 4-3 defense. Acho brings much-needed experience in a 3-4 defense, and also an ideal skill-set for the scheme.

Acho’s NFL career started out with a bang in 2011. After being drafted in the fourth round (103rd overall) by the Cardinals, he started all 16 games as a rookie, finishing with seven sacks and 35 tackles on the season. He held down his starting position throughout 2012, but his production slipped with only four sacks that season.

Acho suffered a serious ankle injury in 2013 that held him out for the rest of the season, after playing in only three games. He returned from injury for the Cardinals last season, but he was never able to get his starting outside linebacker position back. Acho became a solid reserve player and good special teams contributor.

What to Expect from Acho in 2015:

Acho is an above average pass rusher, but he is far from an elite pass rushing option at the position. Typically, we think of a 3-4 outside linebacker being a ferocious outside speed rusher. That is not the case with Acho, but he can get occasional pressure on the quarterback, and his other skills are great for the position.

He is a strong run defender, and his pass coverage skills are impressive. He is never going to become an elite weak-side rusher, but Acho has an extremely well-rounded skill-set that can help the Bears in many ways.

Sep 22, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Sam Acho (94) against the New Orleans Saints during a game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated the Cardinals 31-7. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The competition at outside linebacker is going to be fierce. Fellow free agent addition Pernell McPhee is guaranteed one of the starting spots unless he come across an injury. The other spot however, is wide open.

Acho will be in direct competition with the Bears converted defensive ends to start opposite of McPhee. Lamarr Houston, Willie Young, Jared Allen and David Bass will be Acho’s prime competition for the starting spot.

With his experience in the system, I would imagine that Acho has the edge over the other players right now. That being said, those guys are going to be much more explosive pass rushers. Perhaps the Bears will be enticed by their upside.

Regardless if ends up starting or not, I expect Acho to see a big share of playing time in the Bears’ defense this season. He is an important player in this defensive transition, and could be asked to assume a large role.

Next: Bears' 10 Most Important Players for 2015

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