The Chicago Bears defense was #1 in the NFL last year. They allowed the fewest points and had the most takeaways too. One would think this should get them a certain level of respect from the wider media at large. Yet it seems like there is an air of pessimism around this group. Baffling since they’re returning nine of their 11 starters from 2018 and the two losses were Adrian Amos and Bryce Callahan.
Perhaps it’s the exit of Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator. He’s been one of the best in the business for a long time. Losing somebody like him is bound to have an effect. Then again Chuck Pagano has proven to be no slouch himself. When he has the talent, he can deliver some powerful defensive performances as he did in Baltimore. He most certainly has the talent now.
There may be no more egregious disrespect of this unit than what Bucky Brooks of NFL.com just put forth. His top 5 rankings of the best pass rush duos in the league. There were some no-brainers with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb at the top and J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney right behind them. Where it gets stupid is near the bottom. Not only are the final two highly questionable for different reasons, but Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks?
Not even on the list.
Chicago Bears defense has even more incentive now
Think about this. Last year Hicks and Mack combined for 20 sacks and 126 total pressures on the quarterback. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, who ranked 3rd, had 12.5 sacks and 107 pressures. Bosa has proven he can’t stay healthy. Donald and Fowler? They combined for 24.5 sacks, 20.5 of them by Donald. So how can one call that a great duo? Buckner and Ford haven’t even played a down together yet.
Brooks clearly is placing a LOT of prediction into these rankings rather than established productivity. That should immediately make them invalid. This shouldn’t be a surprise. Brooks is a draft expert and former scout. Projecting players is what he does best, and he’s quite good at it. In this case though, he delivered a massive dose of disrespect to the most underappreciated tandem in the league.