While Justin Fields is the focal point of the Bears’ offseason and their long-term trajectory, the team is similarly depending on linebacker Roquan Smith to continue his ascent and take charge of running the new defense.
As coach Matt Eberflus and defensive coordinator Alan Williams. transition the defense to a 4-3 scheme with all new terminology and assignments, they need Smith to orchestrate everything once the call is made the Bears line up against their offense. Smith has been at every offseason practice, dating back to the optional minicamp in April, and has put the coaches at ease with his command of the defense.
“He’s a very good player, and we’re gonna rely on him a lot to lead the defense,” Eberflus said after practice Thursday. “He’s done a good job of changing and adjusting his body so far, and he’s got five more weeks [until training camp] to show he’s gonna keep getting better and better in the defense.
“You can see him in practice — he’s starting to call things out because he knows where he fits in the defense and he’s getting more comfortable with it. And you can see him starting to turn it loose. That’s encouraging to me and Alan.”
Smith, just 25, is one of the most valuable pieces former general managerRyan Paceleft the new administration and he’s been excellent throughout his four seasons. He likely will be looking for a contract extension around five years, $100 million before the season starts, and general managerRyan Poleshas indicated he has every intention of securing Smith’s future.
Smith said in April he “absolutely” plans to be with the Bears long term.