An Argument for Bears Adding Just One Respectable Pass Rusher (2024)

It shouldn't take a long time to convince Bears GM Ryan Poles to sign one of the many pass rushers still available who are capable of adequate production.

It never hurts to have another good pass rusher, just like it never hurts to have another good cornerback. In fact, it might be the extra push the Bears need on defense to get them into an elite status because they were close last year without a rush for most of the season.

When rush and cover is the nature of your defense, you’d better get more pass rushers if you: 1) don’t want to blitz to create the pressure because you want your defensive backs and linebackers to take away the football; 2) you don’t do a very good job of getting home with the blitzes you do run.

The Bears do not blitz and when they do, they don’t do it well.

They had a 38% success rate at creating pressure last year when they blitzed and they only blitzed 22.2% of the time. That 38% rate was worse than all but seven other teams. They had a 24% non-blitz pressure rate, and it was better than only the Vikings.

And these figures came with Montez Sweat on their team for half the season.

It’s no wonder Pro Football Focus has their defensive line ranked only 27th for this season after adding Sweat. Consider also that their No. 2 guy for creating pressure is gone. That was Justin Jones.

The plan is to get more pass rush out of Gervon Dexter inside, and this is fine. Dexter actually rushed the passer at a better rate than Jones last year but with limited snaps.

Bears DT Gervon Dexter had 3 QB hits in the first nine games. He's had 3 in the past two weeks. Per @PFF, he had a pressure rate of 23.5% on Sunday. Here he is on third-and-long

— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) November 22, 2023

What the Bears need is an extra edge player who might do what they wanted from Yannick Ngakoue last year and didn't get. They also need better sack numbers from all of the other defensive linemen.

Considering their lofty goals, they have to achieve this.

"Really just being number one,” safety Jaquan Brisker said. “Top five in a lot of categories, especially the pass and the run. Getting those turnovers is very important for us.”

They can’t reach such status without improving the pressure. Sacks are fine. Pressure is required. The two go hand in hand.

It’s easy to look at what they have based on past seasons and say they lack the outside rush and will be unable to get a dominant type of edge from any of those available in the current free agent market. This includes players like Emmanuel Ogbah, Carl Lawson, Jerry Hughes, Shaq Lawson and their own free agent, Ngakoue.




Then again, it really doesn’t require much more for them to get the kind of pass rush they need. They don’t need a dominant pass rusher, just contributors. After all, the idea is to lead the league at preventing points and at takeaways.

Leading it in sacks or yards allowed are secondary numbers. The top seven teams last year in fewest points allowed all made the playoffs. Yet, the Jets and Panthers made the top five in yards allowed and were terrible teams. The Patriots were seventh in yards allowed and Bill Belichick lost his job.

Prime Carl Lawson was such a beast. Had one of the best stab-chop-rips you'll see

— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) May 30, 2024

They succeed by getting more pressure on QBs, more sacks are fine but the pressure is the key. Then they get more takeaways and they score more points with a better offense.

Last year the Bears had no players as high as 58th in pressures, according to Sportradar. Sweat was top 10 in pressures but only for his whole season with two teams. This isn’t true by Pro Football Focus numbers, but that website is far too liberal with assigning pressures.

Sweat’s total for nine games in Chicago wasn’t getting him into the top 58 for the whole season according to Sportradar. Most of the players on the top pressures list are on the top sacks list in the NFL. The two go hand in hand. It's not a case where one is more important because they're very similar in makeup.

There are many ways to get the required sack and/or pressure totals.

Unbelievable rep by the 35 year old Jerry Hughes

•5 Man Pressure, SAM blitz
•Hughes clubs and bends then explodes for the strip sack

Texans will need more like this from Hughes with Greenard out once again

— Drew (@IndepthTexans) January 5, 2024

Indianapolis last year made it into the top five last year with only one player over eight sacks and that was Kwity Paye at 8 ½. But the Colts had DeForest Buckner and Dayo Odeyingbo get eight each.

Cleveland finished No. 1 on defense and top 10 for sacks with 49, but the Browns had 14 sacks from Myles Garrett. They had only 5 ½ from Za’Darius Smith and five from Alex Wright. They gathered in a few from other places and it was enough.

Sweat projects to 11 to 15 sacks and the Bears would need to find someone who can create the pressures and maybe five to eight sacks, while younger players pitch in with three or four apiece instead of one or two. They could even get that total from Ngakoue if they signed him again.

Ogbah with a chop/slap rip for the sack

— ᑭᖇO ᖴOOTᗷᗩᒪᒪ ᒍOᑌᖇᑎᗩᒪ 🏈 (@NFL_Journal) October 6, 2020

Not every effective defense is like Baltimore with Justin Madubuike getting 13 ½ sacks and Kyle Van Noy nine, or Miami with Bradley Chubb getting 11 and Christian Wilkins nine or the world champions with 13 ½ from George Karlatis and 11 from Chris Jones.

It doesn’t take high sack totals from more than one player besides the main pass rusher. In other words, you don’t necessarily need the complementary star second edge rusher, although that's nice to have. A producer will do as long as the other players on the line up their own totals from time to time.

The Bears can easily get to a required level of pressure and sacks to bolster this defense if they achieve an all-hands-on-deck approach. If some of the players pick up their totals it would help, and they're counting on this happening naturally with Eric Washington contributing as a defensive coordiantor now. He had this same effect on linemen in Carolina and Buffalo.

However, it would appear they need at least one more hand in the mix who they can count on for consistency with the rush and five to seven sacks. Any one of several remaining unsigned free agents would be able to help them achieve this.

What they can’t have is Sweat getting 10 to 12 sacks and two or three sacks from the rest. They've tried this already and it's insufficient.


— Yannick Ngakoue (@YannickNgakoue) June 7, 2024

Bears 2023 Sack Totals

Defensive linemen

Montez Sweat 6
Justin Jones 4 1/2*
DeMarcus Walker 3 1/2
Yannick Ngakoue 4^
Gervon Dexter 2 1/2
Rasheem Green 2^
Zacch Pickens 1/2
Dominique Robinson 1/2

*No longer with team

^Unrestricted free agent

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven

An Argument for Bears Adding Just One Respectable Pass Rusher (2024)
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