Chicago Bears Rookie Grades (Part 1)

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports /
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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /

2nd Round: Eddie Goldman

This season the Bears transitioned from an out-dated 4-3 cover-2 scheme to DC Vic Fangio’s hybrid 3-4 scheme. One of the key parts of that scheme is a nose tackle who can occupy two blockers and keep the inside linebackers free to make plays. The Bears were counting on former Pro Bowl nose tackle Jeremiah Ratliff to handle the majority of the NT duties this season, but he was released after an early-season meltdown at Halas Hall which left rookie Eddie Goldman to man the NT position pretty much by himself.

Early in the season Goldman filled in for Ratliff occasionally and flashed the ability to take on double teams, clog rushing lanes, and occasionally provide interior pressure against the pass. The talent was clearly there, but Goldman was also inconsistent. He was fooled too often on misdirection run plays, often came out of his stance too high and was drove off the line of scrimmage by sometimes just one blocker, and showed inconsistent effort / stamina issues as a pass rusher. After the first quarter of the season, the jury was still out on whether Goldman was a bust.

Goldman struggled at first after taking over as the Bears starting nose tackle, but as the season progressed so did Goldman. By the second half of the season he seemed like almost a different player. Before his injury in week 15, Goldman had a stretch of six or seven games where he was the Bears best d-linemen. He held his ground against double teams and helped turn around a Bears run defense that was getting gouged earlier in the season.

Goldman’s best performance came in week 13 against the 49ers when he had two sacks, was in the backfield all day, and blocked a PAT. He finished the season with 4.5 sacks on the season which was fourth on the Bears and also 4th among all NFL rookies. Goldman also just missed a few more sacks with 13 QB hits and 6 QB hurries.

Overall his stat line was pretty impressive considering Goldman only played a significant amount of snaps in 12 games last year and he was one of the youngest players in the league at just 21 years old. Goldman also played with a better effort level as the season went on which is pretty unusual for rookie as they normally hit a wall late in the season.

To put Goldman’s season in statistical prospective, Pro Football Focus gave Goldman a 77.4 grade for the season which was among the league leaders. It was just below Pro Bowl NT Dontarie Poe (77.5) and ahead of established NTs like Haloti Ngata (76.9), Terrance Knighton (74.3), and Vince Wilfork (74).

There is a lot to like about Goldman’s rookie season for the Bears and even more to be excited about for the future. HC John Fox has already identified Goldman (and Amos) as one of the building blocks for the future in his post-season press conference. Goldman was put in a tough spot when Ratliff was released, but the fact that he stepped up and improved his play when needed is a good sign for the present and the future. The Bears may already have one of the play-makers they are looking for on their roster.

Grade: B+