Why Willie Young is Important to the Chicago Bears

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 16: Willie Young
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 16: Willie Young /

The word “defense” is perpetually linked directly to the Chicago Bears.  Over their long history, their defense has been the thing that people associate with them the most.  For almost their entire existence, the Bears have had a strong defense. This year, there is one player that will have to step up to help Chicago’s defense rise.  Who is that player and what must he do?

CHICAGO, IL – OCTOBER 19: Willie Young
CHICAGO, IL – OCTOBER 19: Willie Young /

After seeing the scrimmage at the Bears’ family fest on August 5th, I walked away enamored with several of the players who participated in it.

Tarik Cohen crushed it on offense.  The quarterbacks looked good as well.  But when I watch football, I watch the defense and I saw some positive things come out of the defense on Saturday.  One player caught my eye and that player was Willie Young.

Young, an outside linebacker converted from a defensive end has adjusted.  It has taken a little time but he has adjusted well to his new position.  Last year, he led the Bears in sacks.  Young has a habit of showing up big for one game then disappearing for another leaving some to wonder just how consistent he can be.  With starter Pernell McPhee, not a sure thing this season, the Bears need Young to be very consistent.  But will he do that?

Physically, Young is as gifted as almost any of the other outside linebacker on the team.  He is tall has the body composition to be an effective pass rusher.  Young can take on blockers, fight through them and get up the field to the quarterback in a hurry.  When he was with the Lions, Young’s pass rushing skills were sharp.  Early on in his Bears career, he was still able to rush the passer and make an impact.  While he may have slid a little bit, he’s still a very capable pass rusher.

Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears /

Chicago Bears

I have written a bit about how it’s going to be important that Young step up and help contribute now that McPhee’s status is up in the air.  The Bears will need Young to help take some of the pressure off of their premier pass rusher, Leonard Floyd.  If Young can do that, then Floyd will break free, get after the quarterback and rack up the sacks.  That will lead to more wins.

It will be vital that Young assist in helping Floyd get to the quarterback because the Bears will need to get all of the pass pressure that they can get on quarterbacks this season.  Despite the fact the secondary has better talent this year and won’t make as many mistakes, they still need their pass rush moving at light speed.  Young can help provide them with that.

There are others who can rush the passer.  Lamar Houston, the perpetually injured pass rusher who was might have been on his way heading into training camp can help.  Sam Acho, the good guy with a big heart, will try to get to the passer when he can but he’s a better run stuffer.  The Bears have some depth but it’s not spectacular.

Ultimately, Young is going to be the guy that needs to step up and play tough this season to help make the Bears defense effective.  With McPhee, a perpetual question mark and quite possibly now just a situational player, Young will be the one who needs to step in contribute.  Young will have a very good season providing he can be consistent.  If he does that, the Bears’ defense will have better success than they did in 2016.