The Bears will once again boast one of the best defensive players in football in 2020. Whether his supporting cast can perform better than in 2019 will go a long way in determining their fate this year.
Khalil Mack returns to lead an imposing Bears front seven, which will continue to give opposing offenses fits. His numbers did dip slightly last year as the Bears’ lack of supporting pass rushers forced more attention his way. Yet, he remains one of the most physically gifted defenders in the NFL.
He should get more help this season from veteran free agent Robert Quinn, he of 80.5 career sacks. Still productive as he enters his age 30 season, Quinn will take on a new role this year playing primarily as an outside linebacker in the Bears odd-man front. His adjustment to this new spot will be an important story to monitor.
The Bears also have one of the girthiest, most experienced defensive interiors around. Akiem Hicks, Bilal Nichols, and Eddie Goldman are a major strength of this defense, but the Bears cannot afford to lose Hicks for any stretch again – injuries cost him 11 games last year. Roy Robertson-Harris is likely to gain a larger depth role after Nick Williams’ departure to the Lions.
At inside linebacker, the Bears need a big jump in year three from Roquan Smith. He’s shown flashes in two seasons but will have to make more impact plays for the Bears defense to excel. He’ll be flanked again by Danny Trevathan, who also struggled with injuries in 2019. There is little depth behind them aside from journeyman Barkevious Mingo.
The Bears’ secondary is a solid group, led by cornerback Kyle Fuller. One of the most underappreciated defensive players in the NFL, Fuller did not miss a defensive snap last year. He could be joined in the starting lineup by veteran Buster Skrine, though Skrine is more effective in the slot. Rookie Jaylon Johnson, a college star at Utah, could push for snaps with a strong camp along with former Pittsburgh Steeler Artie Burns.
Safety Eddie Jackson also never leaves the field, and he is always a dangerous takeaway threat. He’ll likely pair with Tashaun Gipson, who snagged three picks for the Houston Texans last season. Keep an eye on former Green Bay Packer Kentrell Brice, who spent a brief period with the XFL’s Seattle Dragons while out of the NFL in 2019.