Get Chicago's Best Sports Content In Your Inbox!

Become a smarter Chicago sports fan with the latest game recaps, analysis and exclusive content from CHGO’s writers and podcasters!

Just drop your email below!

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Upgrade Your Fandom

Join the Ultimate CHGO Sports Community!

Chicago Bears Mailbag: Who will be the most productive defensive end for the Bears this season?

Nicholas Moreano Avatar
June 25, 2023

On last Thursday’s CHGO Bears Podcast, Adam Hoge, Mark Carman and I asked Bears fans for questions to answer live on the Mailbag Show. Plenty of questions were submitted from our DIEHARDS on Discord and on Twitter and those resulted in a great discussion on the show.

(Become a DIEHARD and your Bears question will be featured on our next Mailbag Podcast.)

Due to the time constraint, there were plenty of great questions that went unanswered. I went through and selected a few of the questions from Twitter to answer in my mailbag.

From Will Wright: Do we add a FG edge rusher or do we add one via trade?

A lot of Bears fans are like you and wondering when, not if, the Bears will add another edge rusher to the roster. To answer your question, the Bears will most likely sign an edge rusher instead of trading away players or future draft capital to acquire one.

The Bears could sign an established veteran like Justin Houston for a team-friendly one-year deal. Houston was the only player on the Colts to register double-digit sacks (11) while Matt Eberflus was the defensive coordinator in Indianapolis for four years. At 34-years-old, Houston helps fill a need just for this upcoming season.

Yannick Ngakoue is another name that would make a lot of sense for the Bears. Since entering the league in 2016, Ngakoue has sacked opposing quarterbacks 65 times while playing for five different teams. That is tied for the 7th most sacks in that time span. Only Aaron Donald, T.J. Watt, Cameron Jordan, Chandler Jones, Myles Garrett and Khalil Mack have more sacks than Ngakoue in the last seven seasons. Ngakoue’s ability to stop the run is a valid concern, but his specialty is a necessity for this Bears defense.

From nick stiglic: What DE currently on the roster do you expect to have the most productive season?

The options for the Bears at the defensive end position aren’t the greatest, but someone out of Trevis Gipson, Dominique Robinson, DeMarcus Walker and Rasheem Green has to step up this season. Out of this group of players, Walker is the player I’m choosing to have the most productive season in 2023. His versatility to play inside and out creates options for the 6-foot-4, 280-pound defensive lineman. Whether he is lined up one-on-one on the edge or on the inside shoulder of the guard, Walker’s motor and active hands will help him to defeat opposing offensive lineman and to ultimately get to the quarterback.

The 28-year-old D-lineman had his best season in 2022 for the Titans — registering a career-high 32 total tackles and seven sacks. The Bears clearly liked what they saw from Walker and signed him to a three-year, $21 million contract.

Walker already has become a vocal leader inside the Bears locker room, and from just listening to him answer questions at his press conferences, he does have a unique personality to him that resonates with his coaches and teammates. I also like how the guy practices. He is all effort, all the time.

We’ll get a better look at Walker once the pads come on during training camp, but he is my candidate to have the most productive season out of the current defensive ends.

From Charlie Miles: What does it take for an undrafted rookie or unheralded free agent to overtake an established vet or drafted rookie on the depth chart, or to even take their roster spot, during training camp?

This is a great question, Charlie. I think there are a couple of requirements for an undrafted rookie or unheralded free agent to take a roster spot from an established vet or drafted rookie. First, it helps when there isn’t a lot of high-end established talent on the roster. Take for example the 2022 Bears. After Roquan Smith was traded, the linebacker position featured Nicholas Morrow, Matthew Adams and Joe Thomas. Smith’s departure combined with the lack of talent at the linebacker position gave Jack Sanborn a great opportunity to jump in and earn himself valuable playing time.

For a draft pick to become “replaceable,” Velus Jones Jr.’s rookie season is a potential blueprint to examine. Jones struggled early on, especially as a punt returner. He also was utilized in a specific role on offense: a lot of jet sweeps, vertical routes, screens. Although he did end his season better than how it started, there is still plenty left to be desired out of the third-round draft pick. There aren’t any undrafted wide receivers that can take Jones’ spot, but there is plenty of competition at wide receiver. If Dante Pettis has a strong camp while continuing to prove he is the most reliable punt returner, Ryan Poles will have a tough decision to make.

From Dylan Day: How hot is Alan Williams’ seat? Seems like nobody’s really said anything about what happened last year with that D. Does any of the blame fall to Flus too?

Even though the Bears had a historically bad defense in 2022, I don’t think Alan Williams’ seat is all that hot. Of course, Matt Eberflus and the rest of the coaches would’ve liked to see better results, but when you trade away two defensive captains and are relying on rookies combined with aging vets to get stops defensively, things usually aren’t going to work out in your favor.

This season, however, the defense has been upgraded on all three levels. Williams should have enough on defense to show some improvements — despite not having a stud edge rusher. If the defense still has the inability to stop the run, make key stops and fails to create turnovers, then Williams will be in trouble. But given the upgrades on defense, it would take a lot to go wrong for all those things to happen.

Also, this may not mean much, but Williams comes across as a coach that is always well prepared. In his press conferences, he has a command about him and resembles the making of a potential future head coach. With more talent on defense, this will give a better indication of what Williams is capable of as a play caller.

From LewersStMenehune: Who is this year’s Tanner Gentry?

Also known as the fan favorite and training camp hero. In the past, wide receivers Daniel Braverman and Dane Sanzenbacker and running back Jordan Lynch have won these prestigious honors.

One name that comes to mind who may have a similar effect when training camp comes around is wide receiver Daurice Fountain. The Bears signed Fountain to the practice squad in October last season. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound receiver has played in eight NFL games and has two receptions for just 23 yards. The Colts drafted him in the fifth round out of Northern Iowa back in 2018.

During OTAs and minicamp, Fountain made some plays and had the potential to score at least two touchdowns had the ball been thrown his way. He will get more opportunities throughout training camp, and that will definitely create some buzz for the wide receiver among the fanbase.

From Dan Moser: Which player could defeat 100 duck sized Bears?

Arguably the most difficult yet most entertaining question of the mailbag. The idea of a duck-sized Bear is adorable yet terrifying at the same time. If I had to pick one Bears player on this current roster to defeat 100 duck-sized Bears, I have to go with Tremaine Edmunds. Even though I have seen Edmunds throughout OTAs and minicamp, I’m still amazed by his 6-foot-5, 250-pound frame.

His combination of speed, strength and length would put those tiny Bears to the test. If there is one player on the roster that has the best shot of winning a 100 to 1 battle, it’s Edmunds. The Bears are lucky to have him as their middle linebacker in the defense.

Get Chicago's Best Sports Content In Your Inbox!

Become a smarter Chicago sports fan with the latest game recaps, analysis and exclusive content from CHGO’s writers and podcasters!

Just drop your email below!

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Scroll to next article

Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?