The addition of Montez Sweat has fully transformed this Chicago Bears defense. The trade is even better knowing that Ryan Poles didn't back down from making a move despite swinging and missing in 2022 when he traded for wide receiver Chase Claypool. General managers are never going to be perfect, but to move on from Claypool and not be afraid of trading another second-round draft pick speaks volumes to me. It also says that Poles believes in his processes -- something that I have preached to be the reason why the Claypool trade wasn't nearly as bad as it looks in hindsight.
When we look at the Chicago Bears roster up front, Sweat is clearly the top dog, but rookie defensive tackle Gervon Dexter, Sr. is coming into his own. His get-off has improved and although many fans felt like he was never going to be a pass rusher, he has quietly put some nice pass-rushing stats together.
The signing of Andrew Billings was always my favorite defensive signing by Ryan Poles this offseason. I talked about how bad the Bears' rush defense was in 2022 but felt that a guy like Billings would instantly improve everything up front. I was right. Billings signed a one-year deal but earned a multi-year contract extension. His big body frees up other players, most notably the linebackers, and allows them to make the splash plays on the football. He deserves some credit for the elite season that T.J. Edwards is having this year.
Now, Ryan Poles needs to build and expand on the defensive line. Yannick Ngakoue was a solid player but is not likely to return after going on injured reserve, ending his 2023 season. It will be the first time in his career that Ngakoue will not reach at least eight sacks in a season. Thanks to a slow start and his late injury, Ngakoue will only record half of that with four sacks this year. I doubt he returns in 2024 and Poles can look to the draft or maybe free agency again to find a compliment to pair with Sweat and rotational end DeMarcus Walker.