Chicago Bears: Why Danny Trevathan could be the defensive X-factor

Chicago Bears (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Bears are stacked on defense, but this player could be the key to an elite unit in 2019.

When you look across the names on the defense for the Chicago Bears, a lot of names jump out at you. Whether it’s Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Roquan Smith, Kyle Fuller, or Eddie Jackson, the unit boasts an All-Pro or Pro Bowl player at every level of the defense.

We know what Mack does to an opposing offense, and what Jackson did last season to create turnovers and turn them into points. We’ve even identified Smith as a potential Defensive Player of the Year candidate with him being as productive as he was last season in his rookie season.

Therefore, it might be easy to lose sight of a player who could play a significant, if not critical role, on the defense. Of course, we’re talking about Danny Trevathan who could be the difference between this being a very good defense or an elite defense — perhaps even better than they were last year.

Let’s take a look at why. Shortly after the Bears hired Chuck Pagano, Dan Durkin of The Athletic wrote a very good piece detailing how the middle linebackers in a Pagano defense could reap the benefits of his approach. Essentially, Pagano pays particular attention to the direction in which the center pivots after the snap. When he does that, he leaves the backside (weakside) with only two blockers. It is on this side that Pagano likes to send his middle linebacker to exploit the numbers mismatch.

In laying out some of the reasons I thought Smith would have a breakout season, I initially identified him as the beneficiary of the offense focusing on players like Mack, Hicks, and Jackson.

However, the more I think about it, Trevathan could be the one who will benefit off of this attention. He can be the one deployed to the weakside as the offensive line shifts to account for Mack.

Looking at film from last season, Mack and Trevathan typically (but not always) lined up on the same side. Pagano has expressed a desire to perhaps move Mack around. If he doesn’t, overloading Mack and Smith on one side could allow Trevathan to sneak through on a delayed blitz and rack up sacks. Smith is also more likely to be the one to drop in coverage, so that’s another reason it makes sense that Trevathan could draw the blitzing assignment more often.

Next. Mathieu Betts impressing Pagano. dark

We know what to expect from the stalwarts of this defense and can likely count on them to continue to produce at a high level. Trevathan, who is entering a contract year, will be poised to make a huge impact on the defense as the opposing team struggles to identify the responsibilities and locations of Pagano’s weapons.