The Chicago Bears are going into training camp with a revamped defensive line that is looking to put last season’s abomination behind them.
Saying that the Chicago Bears’ defensive line performed poorly last season would be an understatement. The unit finished dead last in the league in rushing yards allowed by surrendering 161.4 per game. This was partly due to injuries that exposed their lack of depth.
General manager Phil Emery acted quickly to make sure this type of display never happens again, and he signed Jared Allen to replace Julius Peppers, who was released before signing with the Green Bay Packers. Henry Melton was also let go in free agency, and he signed with the Dallas Cowboys.
Allen signed a four-year, $32 million contract with the Bears. He is not expected to be the same threat that he was in Kansas City and Minnesota, but if he can post at least half the production he did in those days, he will be an instant upgrade to the Bears’ pass rush.
The Bears’ pass rush also lacked along with their run defense, so they double dipped into free agent defensive ends by signing Lamarr Houston to a five-year deal. Houston shined in his final season with the Oakland Raiders, finishing with a career-high six sacks and being a force in stuffing the run. He figures to be a pass-rushing threat with Allen across from him.
Willie Young was also signed away from the Detroit Lions, and he is also a force to be reckoned with in the run-stuffing department.
Stephen Paea and Jeremiah Ratliff are projected to be the starting defensive tackles for now, and Ratliff will replace Melton, who sat out last season with a torn ACL. However, the Bears selected two defensive tackles in the first three first rounds of the draft.
Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton figure to battle for a starting job. Ferguson is expected to be a solid-run stuffer, and Sutton is a player who can make plays against the pass and the run.
Nate Collins will also provide depth at defensive tackle as he returns from a season-ending ACL injury.
The Bears’ defensive line will attempt to show dramatic improvement as the offensive line did last season. Their defense may become dangerous if they can live up to expectations.