The Chicago Bears offseason plan has come into focus and it’s clear they are concentrating on a strength.
It’s hard to argue as we sit here at the beginning of May that the Chicago Bears — at least on paper — are a better team than the one who ended their season in Minnesota. General manager Ryan Pace was very active this offseason despite having limited salary cap space and draft capital.
However, with the 2020 NFL Draft concluded and free-agent signings starting to dwindle down for the Monsters of the Midway, one theme has emerged. This theme appears to be the Bears plan for executing on a winning 2020 season in the hopes of not only making the playoffs but saving some jobs in the process.
When you have a deficiency, there are two ways to approach it. You can spend effort trying to compensate for your weaknesses, or you can make your strength even stronger. With respect to this offseason, it seems the Bears are taking the latter approach and trying to bolster an already stellar defensive unit.
This is not to say the Bears didn’t do anything to address the offensive side of the ball. But it pales in comparison to what they did on the defensive side of the ball. While the Bears addresses the quarterback position, attempting to upgrade via a trade for Nick Foles, the only other meaningful move they made on that side of the ball was adding second-round pick, Cole Kmet. Yes, they added speedster Darnell Mooney, but as a fifth-rounder he will take some time to contribute. Ted Ginn was another nice addition, but far from a game-changer. Finally, Jimmy Graham is an improvement over Trey Burton, but certainly no longer in his prime.
On defense, however, Pace started by adding a true game-wrecker in free agent Robert Quinn, who will form an unstoppable defensive line with Akiem Hicks and Khalil Mack. On top of that, he added second-round pick but first-round talent, cornerback Jaylon Johnson who can probably be penciled in as the starting cornerback opposite Kyle Fuller.
Finally, on Thursday, they locked down the back end of the defense by signing free-agent safety Tashaun Gipson. Gipson, who recently was released by the Houston Texans after signing a 3 year/$22.5 deal, provides a playmaking safety who is more than capable of stuffing the run.
According to Pro Football Reference, the Chicago Bears had the fourth-ranked defense overall and the fourth-ranked scoring defense, allowing just 18.6 points per game. On the flip side, the offense was ranked 29th overall and in scoring. Looking at those numbers alone, you would have thought the number of changes to the offense would be disproportionate to the defense, but it’s actually been the opposite.
Not only did Pace bolster his strength, but in doing so, has made the task even easier for the offense. Expectations might be low but the bar for success might be even lower with the kind of defense the team is going to roll out each week.