The Chicago Bears stat line on defense for 2019 wasn’t bad. It was certainly better than a lot of defenses across the NFL. However, based on their own personal standards? It was a clear regression. Every category from sacks to turnovers took a noticeable dip. Granted that is bound to happen from year to year, but not as much as it did. Injuries played a part in why that happened along with playing with far fewer leads thanks to a ineffective offense.
All of that said, it’s a new year. A fresh start. Everybody is back healthy and the Bears even got some notable reinforcements added to the mix. Guys who could easily be called upgrades over the men they replaced. Will that be enough to deliver a quality stat sheet this time around?
Let’s find out.
Chicago Bears stat projections for the 2020 defense
- Akiem Hicks: 54 tackles, 10 sacks, 2 forced fumbles
- Eddie Goldman: 38 tackles, 2 sacks
- Bilal Nichols: 27 tackles, 5 sacks
- Roy Robertson-Harris: 25 tackles, 3.5 sacks
- Brent Urban: 30 tackles, 1 sack
One thing people better prepare for? The Akiem Hicks revenge tour. The big defensive end missed most of 2019 with an elbow injury. One can only imagine how frustrated he was not being able to play. So one can expect he’ll come out in 2020 with a chip on his shoulder. Proof will be setting a career-high in sacks. Nichols will also rebound from a disappointing second season to post a respectable five of his own. Robertson-Harris and Goldman won’t have the big numbers, but they’ll be guys who contribute.
- Khalil Mack: 53 tackles, 14 sacks, 6 forced fumbles
- Robert Quinn: 35 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles
- Trevis Gipson: 15 tackles, 3 sacks
People will get a firm reminder of who Khalil Mack is. After going for 8.5 sacks last season, his lowest since 2014, a healthy body and more help around him will allow the All-Pro to terrorize quarterbacks more than ever. New wingman Quinn won’t crack double digits but he will triple the output Leonard Floyd managed from last year. Also, the team will get an encouraging rookie season out of Gipson as well.
- Roquan Smith: 124 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 INTs, 1 forced fumble
- Danny Trevathan: 97 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 2 forced fumbles
There might not be a more underrated pairing of inside linebackers in the NFL than Smith and Trevathan. They were playing excellent football midway through last season. Then Trevathan suffered a freak elbow injury. Smith stepped up in his absence before sadly tearing his pectoral muscle after 12 games. Playing behind a loaded front, expect them to be active around the ball constantly.
- Kyle Fuller: 76 tackles, 3 INTs, 2 forced fumbles
- Jaylon Johnson: 49 tackles, 2 INTs, 1 forced fumble
- Buster Skrine: 55 tackles, 1 INT, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble
- Tre Roberson: 19 tackles, 1 INT
- Eddie Jackson: 62 tackles, 1 sack, 5 INTs, 1 TD, 1 forced fumble
- Tashaun Gipson: 54 tackles, 4 INTs, 1 TD
The Bears pass rush is loaded up. That means the secondary stands to benefit more than any other in terms of forcing turnovers. Three of their number in Fuller, Jackson, and Gipson will have at least three interceptions with the latter two adding a pick-six each to the mix. Rookie Jaylon Johnson will get off to a strong start while Skrine delivers on his status as one of the best blitzing cornerbacks in the game. The slight surprise will be Roberson, fresh from the CFL as he’ll see the field quite a bit too.
All told this defense, health permitting, is going to be a problem for opponents. It doesn’t have a lot of weaknesses. They have Pro Bowl talent at every level, especially up front. Remember the 2018 Bears had 50 sacks. This unit is going to top that number. While the amount of takeaways won’t quite be the same as two years ago, it’ll be a vast improvement from 2019.