Chicago Bears: Kyle Long Feels Positive About Defense in 2017

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 11: Kyle Long
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 11: Kyle Long /

If any fans of the Chicago Bears are looking for any type of optimism heading into the 2017 season, look no further. Five-year veteran offensive lineman Kyle Long was recently on Twitter expressing his feelings of how Chicago’s defensive unit will perform this year. The three-time Pro Bowler tweeted this:

For the sake of the Bears, I hope he’s right. Fans in the Windy City are still cringing after witnessing a tragic 3-13 season. The only bright spot was the surprising emergence of running back Jordan Howard. However, that was on the offensive side of the ball. Defensively, Chicago really wasn’t a picture of dominance.

Overall, the Bears was 15th in defense, surrendering an average of 346.8 yards per game. What was worse was their inability to stop the run in 2016. Chicago’s porous run defense ranked 27th in the league (121.9 ypg), and allowed offenses to reach the end zone on the ground 18 times (tied for sixth-most in the league).

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Yes, the Bears’ pass defense did give up an average of 224.9 passing yards per game, which ranked them seventh in the NFL in 2016. Unfortunately, they only had eight total interceptions (tied for 29th in the league) to go along with their somewhat rigid pass defense. Cornerbacks Tracy Porter and Cre’von LeBlanc accounted for half of those picks, but Porter is no longer with the team. As for other forced turnovers, the Bears caused only 11 fumbles (23rd), recovering only three (tied for last). And their 11 total forced turnovers were dead last in the NFL.

As far as the pass rush, Chicago was a respectable 12th in the league with 37 sacks. Outside linebacker Willie Young led the unit with 7.5 of those quarterback takedowns, while fellow linebacker Leonard Floyd and defensive lineman Akiem Hicks each had seven sacks of their own. Pernell McPhee, the Bears’ highest-paid defensive player for the 2017 season, started 2016 on the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list with a knee injury and managed to tally only four sacks on the year. McPhee didn’t start not one game in 2016.

General manager Ryan Pace did make some additions this offseason, in attempts to bolster the defense. It’s pretty safe to say that an impact won’t be felt from any of the rookies that was drafted. Of the five selections the Bears had this year, Pace only chose one defensive player: Eddie Jackson. The rookie safety out of Alabama more than likely will be more of an asset on special teams as a punt returner. As for the free agents that were added to the roster, cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper, and safety Quintin Demps are the newcomers that may help turn things around for Chicago’s defensive unit.

Hopefully, Long has seen something we haven’t seen thus far this offseason regarding the Bears’ defense. Seeing how the offense will have to get acclimated with new quarterback Mike Glennon and numerous new wide receivers, Chicago’s defense will have to do everything it can to carry the team in order to have a chance to vie for a spot in the postseason for the first time in several years. Will Long’s premonition of a return of the Monsters of the Midway come true? We’ll have to wait and see.