Chicago Bears Week One: Will Jonathan Bullard outsnap Robertson-Harris

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 16: Detroit Lions running back Tion Green
DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 16: Detroit Lions running back Tion Green /

Jonathan Bullard is listed as a starter for the Chicago Bears. Will Bullard play more than Roy Robertson-Harris?

A training camp battle that will extend into the regular season is Jonathan Bullard vs. Roy Robertson-Harris. While the two are a bit different stylistically and bring different attributes to the table, there is only one defensive end spot to start across from Akiem Hicks.

When the team released their first depth chart entering Packers week, Jonathan Bullard was slotted ahead of Robertson-Harris. This could be looked at as a surprise to some. While Robertson-Harris is a UDFA, and Bullard a third-round pick, it could be argued that Robertson-Harris has outplayed him. This could go beyond just this preseason and into the course of the past couple of seasons.

Still, when Bullard was drafted the team knew that they were taking on a project. It was his upside that they coveted, and it showed in spurts during the preseason of his third year. Listing him as the starter indicates that they are still invested in his upside, and think that it can come out more consistently this season.

However, despite the starter designation, the two may not see differing snap count totals. The fact of the matter is that the depth chart is listed with the base defense in mind. Over the last two seasons, the team has played in nickel more often than base. The NFL is becoming a passing league, and teams need defensive backs on the field to counter. The player who gets taken off first is the extra defensive end, considering Eddie Goldman sees the field often in nickel.

The base defense is better for run defense. Bullard is a bigger player than Robertson-Harris, and Bullard tends to win with a disruptive burst out of his stance. This can show more effectively on run stuffing downs.

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While Robertson-Harris is thinner framed, he is a former edge rusher, with a wider variety of pass rushing moves. In those nickel downs, he may be the first backup to Akiem Hicks and Goldman, while Bullard is the “starter” in base.

A backup in the formation they run most often vs. a starter in the alignment that should now be considered “sub-package” will probably equal similar snap totals. We will see if the starter designation means starter snaps over Robertson-Harris in nickel as well.