It was such a drastic shift when Chicago’s offense blossomed under first year NFL head coach Marc Trestman. In just a single off season, Phil Emery changed the face of a franchise. No longer is it a team of linebackers, and corner backs, it has became a team of wide receivers and quarterbacks. It’s a whole new era, a different mentality, and a new focus, something that Chicago has lacked for a long time. Bold acquisitions and careful planning have worked for Phil in his plan to fix an anemic offense. Emery knew to get the best out of the offensive unit, the line play had to be improved. That mentality has made it’s way to the defense as it all starts up front, when Aaron Rodgers is the quarterback of your most storied rival, the four guys up front need to get to him. Just like the offensive change of 2012 and 2013, the same needs to be asked the following year for an entire defensive unit. The question is, can Phil Emery work his magic on the defensive line as well.
It is still not clear as to how the defense will shape up yet, nor how the unit will perform. We do know how it will look though, and on paper it looks good. Right out the gate Lamarr Houston was signed after “losing” out on Michael Bennett. With promising talent in rushing the passer and high ranks in run stoppage, he looks to begin the turnaround in the run game. Compared to Bennett, Lamarr Houston is younger and will cost the Bears less money. With his promising upside, the Bears, likely scored on this signing. Phil’s favorite subject point is versatility, and with the ability to slide inside, Houston fits Emery’s goal of finding versatile players.
The Bears elected to bring back Jeremiah Ratliff for another two years in order to solidify the line. Paired with the signing of Nate Collins, the Bears have ensured some continuity up front. However the Bears really need depth at the defensive tackle positions. Lamarr Houston and the signing of Israel Idonije add depth due to their versatility. Drafting a defensive tackle at the 14th overall pick would go a long way in bolstering a rejuvenated line.
Even with these signings Emery needed to find someone to pair with Lamarr Houston. Jared Allen and Willie Young will be integral parts to the defensive line’s rotation. Allen, a veteran pass rushing specialist who had 11 sacks in 2013, could benefit from being paired with Houston. Willie Young is another solid run stopping defensive end who’s a good speed rusher with an upward arrow. The signing of Jared Allen is solid and should provide some much needed pressure compared to last season. WIllie Young will provide that final piece and could prove to be the bargain pick of free agency. Either way Emery is looking to pull off two consecutive years of building opposite ends of the team. Phil continues to prove his hiring was well warranted and heading into camp he appears to have fixed the Bears line.
About the Author: Zach Krpan
Chicago native and avid fan of the Bears and Black Hawks. Graduate in Communication and Media Studies at Depaul University in Chicago. Works as a Sales Representative for Groupon.