Without much Bears news to talk about until training camp begins, I’m going to breakdown the Bears depth chart at every position. I’ll give a high-level overview of each position, highlight potential battles for both starting roles and roster spots and point out a few players to watch.
I’ve already covered the depth chart at a few positions:
Today I will be covering the Bears depth chart at outside linebacker. It may be the most important position for the success of the Bears defense this year as they need to improve their pass rush effectiveness this season to protect a thin secondary.
The Bears got decent production from their combination of OLBs last season (McPhee, Houston, Young), but still finished 25th in the league with just 35 total sacks. Of those sacks, 20.5 came from the OLB position which is decent, but Fangio’s defense is designed for the OLBs to get the majority of the sacks so those numbers need to improve this season.
The addition of first-round pick Leonard Floyd should provide a boost to the Bears pass rush off the edge, but it will take healthy seasons from the rest of the OLB group to make the Bears into one of the better pass-rushing teams in the league. I’ll break down the depth chart below.
Depth Chart: Outside Linebacker
2015 was the first season that the Bears switched to a 3-4 scheme after decades of running a fairly basic 4-3 / cover-2 alignment, so there were bound to be some issues with the transition. The majority of the Bears roster was signed or drafted to play in a 4-3 scheme and most of the OLBs were moving from a down linemen to playing in space as stand-up linebackers.
Free agent signing Pernell McPhee was an impact pass rusher the first half of the year before knee injuries slowed him down. In the 2nd half, converted defensive ends LaMarr Houston and Willie Young adjusted to their new positions and lead the Bears in sacks over the 2nd half of the season. Both players came on strong late in the season after getting healthy and getting more comfortable as stand-up pass rushers.
As for depth, the Bears didn’t have much with Sam Acho making little to no impact off the edge and no one else stepping up. The Bears have bolstered their depth this year with first-round pick Leonard Floyd giving the Bears more explosion off the edge than they had last season and promising youngster Christian Jones moving to OLB this season. I’ll break down the position battles, bench roles, and players fighting for a roster spot at OLB below.
Next: Position Battle (Starters)