How would you rank the best players on the Chicago Bears defense?
As the season goes on many are starting to realize that the Chicago Bears have the best defense in the NFL. While a lot of these same people will give all of the credit to Khalil Mack, it is worth noting that you do not become a feared unit based on one player. Ask the Raiders last season.
While Mack put this group over the top, they were a good group ready to become elite with a Defensive MVP candidate. So while some do not know the better players that hold this Bears defense together, this is an excellent chance to look back at who the top players.
The Chicago Bears have had 15 players on the defensive side of the ball play at least 25% of the snaps. The first thing to note is that is an impressive amount of depth. How would you rank the those 15 in terms of value?
15. Jonathan Bullard
Bullard has played 30% of the team’s defensive snaps. However, he has lost his starting job to Bilal Nichols and has been playing less than Roy Robertson-Harris. Still, despite being the fifth man in a defensive line rotation has 14 tackles, three going for loss and a pass deflection on top of that.
When Bullard is on the field, the team has yet to allow a rush of more than ten yards. He has not provided the pass rush that many have thought, but he has shown to be a modest run defender worthy of being in the rotation.
14. Roy Robertson-Harris
Bullard is the run defender in the rotation while Robertson-Harris provides a pass rush. Robertson-Harris plays about 33% of the defensive snaps 2.5 sacks, three tackles for loss and eight quarterback hits. He also has a pass deflection and 19 tackles.
However, when he is on the field, the Bears allow 4.5 yards per carry. They allow 3.1 when he is not on the field. While that has a bit to do with situational play, the opposition goes from a 37% success rate against the run when he is on the sidelines to 45% success rate when he is on the field. The combination of Bullard against the run and Robertson-Harris against the pass is a perfect match.
13. Bilal Nichols
Bilal Nichols has started in two of the past four games. It is clear that the rookie is beginning to ascend over the duo of Bullard and Robertson-Harris. Nichols has played a little less than 30% of the team’s snaps.
However, he does have 1.5 sacks, three tackles for and two quarterback hits. On top of that, he forced two fumbles and recovered one himself. He is playing the least of the three rotational pieces and has made arguably the most significant impact. There is no considerable difference in splits with him off of the field, but the teams sack rate nearly doubles when he is on the field. Sacks and turnovers come with Nichols on the field. Not bad for a fifth-round rookie.
12. Aaron Lynch
Lynch went from being a player that many wanted to be cut in the summer to a player putting in 40% of the team’s snaps and adding an impact to the defense. Lynch has three sacks and eight quarterback hits. That comes with three tackles for loss, 13 tackles and a pass defended.
Coming into the season there was a huge question as to who would rush across from Leonard Floyd. Everyone will point to Khalil Mack being the apparent difference in the group, but to add a quality third pass rusher in Lynch is going to go underrated.