Chicago Bears Defense Will Live up to Hype in 2016


Are you a Chicago Bears fan? Are you scared? I know a small part of me is. I have been a Bears fan since I lived in Chicago in 1984, and that is long enough to give the current buzz at Halas Hall a very familiar feeling. It is one of those that makes you say, “Oh, here we go again!” Chicago is overflowing with optimism, while many pundits are warning us of all the holes.

Mind you, that is the scene nearly every year, whether the Bears end up in the cellar or the Super Bowl or anywhere in between. As much as we want to believe the hype from Halas Hall, there have been more cellars than Super Bowls over the last 30 years, so, we Bears fans find ourselves trying to decide just how much hope to invest in the hype.

Somehow, I still like to look for reasons to believe. Now that I am working at BGO, it is my job to share those reasons when I see them, or the lack of reasons, if need be. This year, I have reasons. Believe in them, and, if the course of the season proves me wrong, feel free to blame me for getting your hopes up. I like my odds.

First, no pundit anywhere will say the Bears don’t look better this year. How much better becomes the question. If the 2015 Bears had been an average of five points per game better, that 6-10 record could have been 11-5, including one victory over the Minnesota Vikings, dropping them to 10-6 and giving the Bears a division title. Is five points a reasonable expectation?

They were No. 14 last year on defense in a transition.  I went through that transition in Indy with a 4-3 going to a 3-4. I knew if they were that good coming off that transition, then there are a lot of things that can go right. – Jerrell Freeman

Let’s start with defense. In 2014, the Bears D was 30th in the league in yards allowed, in 2015 they were 14th. Not only did they make this improvement in one season, but they did it in the first season with a complete new coaching and management staff, and the first season of converting from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4, complete with a handful of square pegs in round holes, and several spots under-skilled, under-developed, or both.

Under those conditions, that is not an improvement, it is a miraculous transformation. From the 2014 rent-a-Bear defense, a bunch of clowns in Bears “costumes” pretending to be a Chicago Bears Defense to a unit starting to show signs of coming back from the dead. I’ll grant you, by Chicago standards, 14th in the league is a bad year, but, given where they started and the path they took to get there, it is quite impressive.

Since then, the pundits all love the defensive improvements in the off season, but are quick to point out where the improvements aren’t enough. Sure, the Bears improved a lot at ILB and at least some on DL, but what about OLB and DB. There are holes- and questions.

Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /

First, let me say that the theme of these next comments, in my opinion, also apply well to Akiem Hicks and Jerrell Freeman, but, I will focus on Danny Trevathan, as he is a more extreme example. Trevathan was the tackling leader on the defense that gave up the fewest yards per game in 2015, the 4th fewest points, and, oh by the way, helped the Denver Broncos win the Super Bowl.

If you think that Trevathan represents an improvement for the Bears in quality of play at ILB, you can’t see the forest for the trees. Trevathan represents an improvement in quality of play at every position on the defense. Not only does a higher level of play from at ILB (or DL) make for less stress and more opportunities for every other position, but Trevathan’s presence brings inspiration, a winning attitude and a Super Bowl mentality which will benefit rookies and developing veterans alike.

We’ve got a great group of guys with some attitudes but they’re smart at the same time and you rarely see that- Danny Trevathan

If that doesn’t convince you, please also consider that this whole group will be coached by Vic Fangio, the guy who coached rookies Adrian Amos and Eddie Goldman through 28 starts last season, and has an even more promising defensive draft class to work with this year. Will this look like the ’85 Bears defense?  Am I predicting a Super Bowl win? Not likely, but, I am telling you that the 2016 Monsters of the Midway will have teeth, and they will eat well.

Some of the rookie Monsters will start, others will develop. In either case, they will be learning in a great situation with a proven coaching staff and some very savvy veterans. They will be pushed and they will be held accountable for every aspect of their game. I have been disappointed plenty of times in the past 30 years, but, today I believe we are watching the start of something we have been without for far too long.