Chicago Bears: 2015 Season Preview

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Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The defensive side of the ball has a lot more turnover than the offensive side of the ball.  Vic Fangio will install a base 3-4 defense for the first time in the Bears’ nearly century-long history.  The defense will be a work in progress all season, but after consecutive seasons as historically the worst unit in team history, they’ve got nowhere to go but up.

The defensive line probably has the hardest time in transitioning to a 30-front because it requires more specific body types.  Jeremiah Ratliff, who’s had success as a nose tackle, will miss the first three games while serving a suspension.  That thrusts second round draft pick Eddie Goldman into the spotlight.  We’ll get an idea if Ryan Pace knows how to draft for this defense pretty quickly.

The Bears stumbled by signing free agent castoff Ray McDonald when he went amiss of the law yet again.  That makes Jarvis Jenkins and second year man Ego Ferguson key players to set the edges on at defensive end.  Fellow second year vet Will Sutton proved doubters who said he wasn’t a fit for a 3-4 defense wrong when he had an impressive camp and chiseled out a role at both nose tackle and end.

Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

The linebackers, the lifeblood of the 3-4 defense, are an interesting group.  Ryan Pace targeted Pernell McPhee as his top free agent to play outside linebacker.  The other outside linebackers are mostly converted defensive ends.  Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston expect to figure heavily in the rotation.  I like Sam Acho and what he brings to the party.

The inside linebackers could be interesting this season.  Shea McClellin takes on his third position since joining the Bears.  By all accounts, he seems to be taking well to it, but we’ve heard that story before too.  Undrafted second year man Christian Jones, who showed a lot of promise last season, will play at the other inside backer spot.   Jonathan Bostic will need to step up his game and become a special teams stalwart to continue to justify a roster spot.  I was surprised they cut Mason Foster to keep undrafted rookie John Timu.

Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The secondary for the Bears is my biggest concern for this team.  Is Kyle Fuller the ball hawk we saw for the first three games last season or the guy who struggled with injuries late in the season.  The Bears cut former Pro Bowler Tim Jennings to go with Alan Ball, Sherrick McManis and Terrence Mitchell all expected to get time in the rotation.

The safety position isn’t much better off than it has been in years past.  Rookie fifth round pick Adrian Amos will start at free safety while veteran Antrel Rolle will get the nod at strong safety.  Ryan Mundy, the team’s leading tackler in 2014, is lost for the season to injury.  Brock Vereen hasn’t exactly inspired much confidence after a shaky preseason.

The Bears special teams look much better than they have the last couple of seasons.  I expect Pat O’Donnell to have a big year.  It’s sad that I have high expectations for our punter!  Robbie Gould should have a bounceback year after struggling by his standards in 2014.

Next: Chicago Bears 2015 Staff Predictions