Other than Pernell McPhee, do Bears have any keepers on defense?


The Chicago Bears defense has improved slightly since last season, but is still pretty poor. Newcomer Pernell McPhee has been the lone bright spot for the Bears defense as no other player on that side of the ball has made any sort of noticeable impact.

With new general manager Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox looking for players who fit their style of football, besides McPhee, are there any keepers on the Bears defense for next season and beyond?

McPhee is the clear leader of the defense. He leads by example through his inspirational words and play on the field. The Bears released Jeremiah Ratliff after he and Pace got into an argument that escalated quickly. Ratliff might have had some issues but he was a solid force for the Bears on the defensive line.

Now that he’s gone, other defensive line players on the roster will have to step up. Ziggy Hood, Will Sutton, Eddie Goldman and Jarvis Jenkins have to show the coaching staff that they can contribute in a positive way.

Jenkins said this week that he is going to assume more of a leadership role with the Bears now that Ratliff is gone. Getting more sacks and clogging up holes in the running game is what the Bears need from Jenkins.

Sutton is in his second year in the NFL so barring a trade or release, he will be back with the Bears next season as he is still on his rookie contract. He has been decent in the run game but hasn’t put enough pressure on opposing quarterbacks to stand out on game film.

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Pace and Fox are looking for players who have a high motor and are willing to do whatever it takes to a win a football game. The Bears defensive line is the strongest aspect of their defense.

The linebacker, safety and cornerback positions all have holes that need to be filled.

The Bears secondary has been awful for a few seasons now. Looking on the bright side, at least Chris Conte isn’t on the team. Second year cornerback Kyle Fuller had a solid rookie season with the Bears but has taken a huge step back this season. His confidence is obviously not there right now and was even benched during a game earlier in the season.

Besides McPhee there isn’t anyone on the defense that stands out as a player the Bears must keep for the future. It is looking like Pace and his staff will have to build through the draft by drafting some young players who can be play makers on the defensive side.

The linebacker spot is weak for the Bears and that is a shame given the great players they have had in their franchises history at that position.

In the defensive scheme the Bears are running (the 3-4), the linebackers have to be athletic and be able to cover their gaps and areas on the field. New defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has a bright mind but he needs the right personnel for his defense to work.

He had great players in San Francisco when he was the coordinator there, and the players he had were the right fit for the scheme he was running. Currently the Bears defense lacks star power and consistency. They showed flashes of improvement in the wins over Oakland and Kansas City, but regressed mightily in the loss to Detroit.

It just seems like McPhee is the only player you notice doing anything good on defense.

The safeties are giving up deep passes, the linebackers can’t tackle and the cornerbacks are just not skilled enough to guard wide receivers one on one. This off-season is going to be critical for Pace and his staff to revamp this defense. Defense wins championships and the Bears have to get back to their roots of being a dominant defense again.

It will take some time, and development of the young guys on the roster will be important going forward. The team as a whole is mostly made up of players who were part of the old regime of Phil Emery and Marc Trestman.

Pace has to properly evaluate those players and if they aren’t the right fit for the team going forward, then they have to go.

Currently the Bears defense is giving up too many big yardage plays and not forcing enough turnovers. With star running back Adrian Peterson and the Vikings coming into town on Sunday, the Bears are in for a big test in the running game.

McPhee is excited to face Peterson, but his excitement might be short lived once Peterson starts running all over the Bears defense. Hopefully this is a game where the defense comes together as a group and stops the Vikings offense.

The Bears defense, looking ahead to next year, should be different in personnel. The team needs to get younger, more athletic and fundamentally sound in order to improve. There aren’t many building blocks on the defensive side at the moment other than McPhee and that is a troubling sight to see.