After the first three days in the new season, Phil Emery and the Bears are doing what was expected-they attacked and made over the defense.
The Bears signed two defensive ends, Lamarr Houston and Willie Young. They also parted ways with fan favorite Julius Peppers. Emery said at the end of the season that he wanted to get the defense younger and more athletic and so far that has been the case.
Houston can play both the interior and the edge so he gives the Bears defense flexibility. Young is a quick, disruptive force. He had three sacks last year, but as Jordan Campbell pointed out, he had 15 quarterback hurries and 11.5 quarterback knockdowns.
The Bears also found help at safety. They signed Ryan Mundy and MD Jennings. Both players are an improvement over what they had last season in Chris Conte and Major Wright. Conte is still under contract, while Wright is not and will not be re-signed.
Conte had a horrible 2013, culminating with being the goat in the Week 17 game that cost the Bears the division. He did have a good 2012, so perhaps the competition he now faces may get him to get back to his earlier success.
Mundy and Jennings bring the Bears a more physical and cerebral game. Wright had trouble communicating on the field and both he and Conte just were not good instinctual players.
The Bears also signed Jordan Senn and Domenik Hixon, but those were mainly to help the special teams.
Some may question the moves the Bears made as not being too splashy, but looking at the team needs, they got exactly what they needed. A lot of teams overpaid for their players, while, on paper at least, the Bears got some good value for their money. They got young, athletic players on the rise.
Remember, as well as the offense played last season, if the defense was just average, the season could have been entirely different. By making some improvements on that side of the ball, and not spend big money on free agency, the Bears could very well be contenders.
Remember, the Seattle Seahawks just won the Super Bowl with a bunch of late round draft picks and undrafted free agents. Signing the big names is sexier, but it is more prudent to get the players and then they become big.
The Bears’ job is not over by any stretch. There is still a need at defensive tackle and cornerback. They are letting Henry Melton and Charles Tillman make their rounds to see what is out there for them before deciding on whether to bring them back or not.
I believe eventually they will sign Melton, and bid adieu to Tillman. They will still get a tackle and a cornerback in the draft, and probably another safety. Also, there is a need at backup running back with the departure of Michael Bush.
So far, it would appear the Bears had a solid start to 2014. They filled a lot of their needs, and this team looks to be a lot stronger once the season starts. We will know more once we see how the draft turns out.
How do you feel about the Bears’ moves? Do you like the direction they are going, or are you disappointed?