The Chicago Bears defense was the best in the NFL last season. There is no arguing. It’s a fact. They allowed the fewest points, forced the most turnovers, and allowed the fewest rushing yards. There wasn’t much else they could’ve done to prove this point. Yet somehow many around the league continue to find ways to disrespect what that unit accomplished.
The culprit this time is Buck Brooks. A former defensive player himself and longtime scout before becoming an analyst for NFL.com, he decided to post rankings for the best defensive trios in the league today. His criteria centers around their ability to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks both in the pass rush and in coverage. Seems a bit lopsided and ignores the run game, but alright. So who were his top choices?
This is where it gets crazy. Chicago’s trio of Akiem Hicks, Khalil Mack, and Eddie Jackson came in 3rd. That’s right. All three men were named to the Pro Bowl in 2018 and guided the defense to the #1 ranking. Somehow that is only good enough to get them a bronze medal on this list? That is bad enough. Where it gets so much worse is who got ranked ahead of them.
“Credit Chicago general manager Ryan Pace for going all in to acquire a dominant edge player who elevates the defense to elite status. Mack crushed opponents with his “bull in a china shop” playing style and dominant rush skills. In his first year with the Bears, Mack piled up 12.5 sacks, six forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a pick-six as the unit’s designated playmaker.
Hicks is Mack’s Pro Bowl sidekick, with seven-plus sacks in each of the past three seasons. He is the perfect complement to Mack, as a destructive interior rusher with outstanding hands and combat skills. Jackson is a ball magnet in the secondary with superb instincts, awareness and range. He has eight interceptions in his first two NFL seasons, with three pick-sixes and a pair of scoop-and-score touchdowns.”
Chicago Bears defense ousted by an overrated trio from L.A.
Coming in at #2 were the Dallas Cowboys triplets of Demarcus Lawrence, Leighton Vander Esch, and Jaylon Smith. Now there is no disrespect to those three. They were excellent last season. Vander Esch and Smith combined for 161 tackles and Lawrence had 10.5 sacks. However, Mack surpassed him with 12.5, Hicks was one of the top-ranked run defenders in the league (and had 7.5 sacks), while Jackson brought a dimension Dallas didn’t have in the secondary.
Nevermind that, again, the Bears had the better-ranked defense across the board.
The far bigger insult came with Brooks’ top selection. None other than the Los Angeles Chargers trio of Joey Bosa, Derwin James, and Melvin Ingram. Wait, what? Let’s get this straight. Ingram had 7 sacks last year in 16 games. Mack had 12.5 in 14. Bosa missed nine games with an injury. Hicks didn’t miss any. Jackson had twice as many interceptions as James (6 to 3) and scored three defensive touchdowns while James had zero.
Oh and the Chargers defense finished worse against both the pass and the run. Yeah, that totally makes sense.