Free Agent Signings
The Bears made a targeted effort to upgrade the front seven, making key personnel moves in both free agency and the draft.
First, the Bears focused on the inside linebacker position. Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio noted that inside linebacker is “a critical position.” He said “those guys are kind of the quarterback of the defense, they are in between everybody.”
Inside linebackers are required to be fast and tough, be able to recognize offensive formations and communicate pre-snap adjustments to the defense, and quickly read how a play is developing post-snap to proactively make plays on the football.
In fact, the Bears 2016 defensive performance will be centered around the improvement of their inside-linebacker play. Fangio proclaimed “as fast as [the inside linebackers] learn how to quarterback the defense [and] feel comfortable in what we’re doing and we feel comfortable with them will determine how fast and how well we improve.”
To upgrade the position, the Bears declined to resign ILB Shea McClellin. Why? Below is an illustration of the problem.
Taking over are free agents ILBs Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman. Pro Football Focus ranked Trevathan and Freeman as the first and third best inside linebackers to hit free agency in 2016 respectively.
Trevathan and Freeman might be the perfect addition for the Bears. Their athleticism and instincts allow them to diagnose plays and close in on the football quickly.
Fangio noted that Trevathan is “athletic, he’s got good speed, he’s got a good nose for the game. Inside there he does a good job of finding the ball.”
And HC Fox noted Trevathan and Freeman are “both athletic, they both played in the league. They have good instincts in run and pass, so they play fast.”
Next: Draft Picks