Chicago Bears, Def, Bears
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2015 Outlook: Do Not DraftLast updated on Aug-20-2015 by Shawn Childs
Chicago will only face two teams with strong defenses—the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. They have six games against teams with below par rushing attacks – two vs. the Detroit Lions and one against the Arizona Cardinals, San Diego Chargers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders. The Bears have eight games against below average passing teams. Their toughest two opponents against the pass are the Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers, whom they face twice.
The Bears allowed the 17th most rushing yards (1803) while allowing 4.3 yards per carry and 12 rushing touchdowns.
Defensive end Jay Ratliff is coming off a nice steady season where he delivered positive value in each game he played, providing strength against the run and upside in the pass rush (seven sacks, seven QB hits, and 19 QG hurries). His downside is his injury risk due to age (34 in August). Over the last three years, Jay has missed 26 games. Last year he battled a concussion and later a knee issue. 2015 second round draft pick DT Eddie Goldman is expected to earn the starting nose tackle position. He'll upgrade the run defense, but he may turn into a rotation player against the pass in his first year in the league. Defensive end Ego Ferguson was a one-dimensional run defender in his first year in the league after being selected in the second round. The defensive line lacks impact pass rushers after the loss of DE Willie Young (10 sacks) due a torn Achilles and Stephen Paea (five sacks) signing with the Redskins.
Pernell McPhee is coming off of his best season in the NFL where he delivered career-high nine sacks. Linebacker Jon Bostic played much better against the run with no value in the pass rush after struggling in his rookie season as a second round draft pick. Jared Allen has been an elite passer rusher throughout his career. Last year he tallied six sacks, 20 QB hits, and 32 QB hurries with slightly below league average value against the run. Chicago will move him to linebacker with the hopes of creating more space to attack the QB. Allen will start the year at age 33. The last linebacker job will be a battle between Mason Foster, Christian Jones, Shea McClellin and Cornelius Washington. McClellin has the best pedigree (first round pick in 2012). Last year Shea showed growth as a run defender with low value in the pass rush.
Cornerback Tim Jennings had much more success as the second cornerback on the Bears when Charles Tillman was on the roster. Over the last two years, he's been average in pass coverage. Last year, Jennings allowed 50 catches for 658 yards and five TDs on 82 targets. 2014 first-round draft pick CB Kyle Fuller played well early against the pass before fading badly in pass coverage over his last 13 games. He allowed 64 catches for 841 yards with five TDs but recorded four interceptions on 101 pass attempts. Antrel Rolle is a NFL veteran with value in pass coverage, but age has led to less value against the run. There is a good chance that 2015 fifth-round draft pick Adrian Amos wins the starting free safety job. Amos should play will in pass coverage with work to do in the run game.
Chicago recorded 39 sacks in 2014, which was right at the league average. They allowed the 30th-most yards in pass coverage (4,230) and 34 passing TDs with 14 Ints. QBs gained 8.1 yards per pass attempt (3rd highest in the league).
The Bears won't pressure the QB with their defensive line, but they should be slightly better against the run. Allen and McPhee will help attack the QB at the linebacker position. The secondary needs Fuller to play at an elite level and Amos needs to improve his game against the run. Chicago doesn't have one elite player and has risky players at two levels of their defense. However, this defense may surprise in some games against teams with poor QB play and second tier receivers. The Bears will only be a matchup play as a backup Fantasy defense.
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