Last year’s Chicago Bears defense had difficulty replicating its 2018 form. But could the 2020 defense be primed for an all-time great year?
If the Chicago Bears ever came across an elevator that said “great offense right this way,” they’d almost certainly take the stairs. In some way, they’ve always made life unnecessarily difficult. For as long as many of us have been able to partake in the experience of watching Bears games, we’ve only had the privilege of watching some of NFL history’s greatest defensive teams.
Akin to the way the NBA world salivates over the idea of some player being definitively superior to Chicago great Michael Jordan, there’s been something of a desire among Bears fans to witness a defense that surpasses that of 1985.
Some Bears teams — think the 2005, 2006 Urlacher days, or even 2012 — have threatened, but never on a week-to-week basis. The last Bears defense to provide a scare came in 2018.
Perhaps the 2018 Bears don’t have three Hall of Famers the way 1985 did with Richard Dent, Dan Hampton and Mike Singletary, but here’s what it did produce: the highest coverage grade in Pro Football Focus history (95.9). Three All-Pro First Teamers. 36 takeaways, which, since the start of this decade, ranks No. 10 overall. They also allowed just a 72.9 quarterback rating and 80.0 rushing yards per game.
And boy, was that difficult to try and replicate in the following year.
But this year, the 2019-20 version of the Bears could be poised to replicate what we saw in 2018, despite more than a few moving parts. It would be remiss to begin with anything other than the addition of Robert Quinn, a multi-time Pro Bowler who ranked No. 4 in the highest QB pressure rate a season ago.
Among marquee signings, Quinn is joined by former Pro Bowler Tashaun Gipson and second-round pick Jaylon Johnson. You throw all of that into a vacuum, and there’s reason to believe that we could be looking at one of the great defenses in Bears’ history. We could come up with a bazillion reasons as to why, but here are three that caught my eye.