Chicago Bears: Way-too-early prediction of 2021 Week 1 defensive starters

Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Bears, Khalil Mack
Chicago Bears (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

These outside linebackers are most likely to start Week 1 for the Chicago Bears

If you wanted to know where all the money is on this Chicago Bears roster, look no further. The team has invested heavily in pass rushers. The thing is, this unit has not lived up to expectations. Khalil Mack is still one of the best pass rushers in the league. Robert Quinn has a history of sacking the quarterback but failed to do enough of that for the Bears in 2020. These two players alone make up for over 15% of the Chicago Bears 2021 salary cap. Will they both start Week 1?

Starting Outside Linebackers: Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn

When you invest that much money into a position, then you better hope those two are starting come Week 1. Make is an obvious choice, but the way Robert Quinn played last season, some think that he will lose playing time to newcomer Jeremiah Attaochu. I doubt that happens unless Quinn is dealing with an injury again. The hope will be that with Sean Desai overtaking the defensive coordinator job that Mack and Quinn will find ways to be more disruptive again in 2021.

Mack finished 2020 with under 10 sacks for the second year in a row. He got to the quarterback nine times (8.5 in 2019) last season. This would not have been as big of a deal had he finished the year with similar pressures as he did in 2018 (47) when he had 12.5 sacks. This is what happened in 2019 (45), but in 2020 he only had 31 pressures. Mack is great but needs to find a way to impact the stat sheet more in 2021.

Robert Quinn was something else altogether in 2020. He finished the year with only two sacks — the lowest output of his entire career. Quinn was coming off an 11.5 sack season with the Cowboys but fell off due to nagging injuries all season. Drop foot is rumored to be the main cause. Quinn is already dealing with back issues this offseason. Two sacks and 16 pressures are not enough for the player earning the second-highest cap hit this season.

The Chicago Bears will also need outside linebackers Jeremiah Attaochu and second-year player Trevis Gipson to turn up the heat this season.