Bears Season Awards: Eddie Goldman Most Promising Rookie
Hello again, Bears fans. In Part 3 of the Bears Season Awards, I will take a look at 2015’s Most Promising Rookie. In last week’s installment I named Eddie Royal as Chicago’s Least Valuable Bear for the season. When choosing the Most Promising Rookie Bears player for the 2015 season there were a couple of valid options. Names like Jeremy Langford and Adrian Amos are hot on everyone’s mind, and to be sure both players did present a tremendous amount of upside in 2015. Despite their upward trend, Eddie Goldman stands alone as the Most Promising Rookie on the Chicago Bears following his impressive 2015 campaign.
The Most Promising Rookie on the Bears had to be a first year player who played significant snaps during the season, and who is heading into 2016 as a projected plus contributor on the team. These parameters didn’t do much to really narrow down the winner of this award among Chicago’s first year players. This was a season where GM Ryan Pace and Head Coach John Fox intentionally gave a lot of young players a look. Undrafted Free Agents and practice player signings were regular contributors week to week.
The Bears came into this season with a number of holes to fill, and new systems on both sides of the football. A roster that was getting old and lacking in future playmakers, was therefore open to dissection. Pace and Fox wasted no time in bringing in new blood, especially on the defensive side of the football where it was anyone’s guess as to who would be starting on Sunday. This atmosphere at Hallas Hall made it imperative that the new Bears leadership succeed at identifying the next wave of high caliber Chicago Bears players.
The job didn’t get off on the right foot either. With the selection of and subsequent injury to Kevin White, the Bears were moving backwards as they let talent (Brandon Marshall) walk out the door for a guy that would not even step on the field this year. Thankfully highly respected Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio and the Bears Brass had more luck on the defensive side of the ball, where the majority of help was needed.
Da Windy City
That brings us to May 1st, 2015, and the selection of nose tackle Eddie Goldman out of Florida State University with the 39th overall pick in the 2nd round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. Goldman stepped into Hallas Hall expected to push for solid playing time, and as a 2nd round pick, he was not wrongly expected to be a contributor on defense for this team. These moderate expectations were raised however, when Jeremiah Ratliff was released by the Bears following some questionable character issues. This forced Eddie Goldman front and center on the defensive line, and meant that there could be little to no rookie learning curve.
Coaches Fox and Fangio made it clear early in the season that Goldman was going to be the key cog in the middle of the defensive line, and he did not disappoint. The release of Ratliff while speaking volumes about the atmosphere the new coaching staff was trying to create, also showcased the trust the staff had in their new nose tackle. The signing of Mitch Unrein does not detract from the faith that the staff had in Eddie. Keeping a veteran presence on the line was always going to be important when the Bears were so young at the position, and despite Unrein’s arrival Goldman was still the top tackle in the position room. Had Eddie Goldman not been perceived as capable, than the Bears would not have been as likely to release Jay Ratliff, or be as successful without him once they had done so.
“Goldman was named to the NFL All-Rookie team by the Pro Football Writers of America”
By the end of this season Goldman had played in 15 games, registering 22 tackles and 4.5 sacks according to Chicago Bears’ team statistics. Goldman was also named to the NFL All-Rookie team by the Pro Football Writers of America. The only other Bear to make the cut on that list was aforementioned Adrian Amos. Both players actually had to overcome similar situations, an injury to Antrel Rolle forced Adrian Amos to play significant starting time this season. What Eddie Goldman was able to do at such an important position cannot be overlooked however, and given the expectations he will have now heading into 2016, he stands alone as the Bears Most Promising Rookie.
Not since Tommie Harris have the Bears have so much to look forward to on the interior of the defensive line. Here’s hoping the career path of Goldman mirrors the early years of Harris’ career, and not the latter.