It is no secret that the Chicago Bears' defensive line needs to improve. Last year might have been one of the worst defensive line performances to date in NFL history. The Chicago Bears finished with 20 total sacks (worst in the league) and the team sack leader was not even on the defensive line. Instead, it was safety Jaquan Brisker who finished with a team-leading four sacks. As a whole, the defensive line only accounted for 10.5 sacks on the season. That is completely unacceptable. Both Justin Jones and Trevis Gipson finished with three sacks a piece. But what has changed for 2023?
Well, there haven't been any splash signings along the defensive line for the Chicago Bears this offseason. The new faces along the line include Andrew Billings (my favorite of the signings), DeMarcus Walker, Rasheem Green, and Jalyn Holmes. Do any of these guys excite you from a pass-rush perspective? Ryan Poles did address the defensive line in the 2023 NFL Draft though. He selected three defensive linemen in Gervon Dexter, Zacch Pickens, and Travis Bell. The team also signed UDFA D'Anthony Jones.
With the current roster, where are the Chicago Bears going to find more sacks in 2023? Early projections have the starting four defensive linemen as Trevis Gipson, Justin Jones, Andrew Billings, and DeMarcus Walker. Let's not be surprised if Gervon Dexter wins the top spot over Justin Jones though. This leaves the top rotational guys as Zacch Pickens, Dominque Robinson, and Rasheem Green.
Now, the Chicago Bears can obviously add some help on the edge, but even with the addition of a defensive end like Yannick Ngakoue or Justin Houston, Trevis Gipson is likely to start as well. There is one stat that we can look to that could lead to a bounce-back year for Gipson in 2023.
Trevis Gipson is primed for a bounce-back season in 2023
First of all, we saw Trevis Gipson shift from a 3-4 OLB role down to a 4-3 DE role. He is going into year two and that alone should help with his production. I am hoping that the Chicago Bears don't start the season with the current projected defensive front, however, even if they do, there has been an upgrade to the 1T spot in Andrew Billings. Adding him should help take double teams off others. With the expectations of Gervon Dexter, he too could help eliminate some specific double teams. Why am I bringing this up?
According to ESPN Next Gen Stats, Trevis Gipson saw the fifth-most double teams in the NFL last year.
Aiden Hutchinson and Myles Garrett saw the most double teams, closely followed by Jerry Hughes and Za'Darius Smith. Trevis Gipson is not on the same level as any of these pass rushers, but seeing the fifth-most double teams is not something to ignore. He should not see that many in 2023 and that should hopefully help Gipson bounce back to something closer to his 2021 season when he finished with seven sacks. Now, add in some actual help on the opposite side and Gipson could look even better. This is not a reason for the Chicago Bears to ignore free agency, but it is a positive outlook on the current roster.