The Chicago Bears boasted an anemic pass rush last season, recording just 20 sacks with only six of them coming from the EDGE position.
This offseason, they added Rasheem Green and DeMarcus Walker in free agency to incumbents Trevis Gipson and Dominique Robinson. But, even with those additions, there have been calls for an upgrade either via trade for free agent signing to beef up what was the NFL’s 32nd-ranked pass rush. And general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus freely said they will add if things align properly.
Young Bears Get Honest About Calls for Pass Rush Upgrades
Dominique Robinson: ‘This is a Business’
“That don’t bother me at all,” Robinson said on July 29. “I understand that this is a business, man. I was here last year when they was bringing a dude in almost every other week. So it is what it is. If they want them in, they want them in. If they don’t, they don’t. I know what I need to do to be here, and I’m gonna continue to do that. So it is what it is – I’m not in that discussion.”
Robinson, 25, is a converted wide receiver, though he insists that part of his game is gone.
He did note that he was getting by on athleticism rather than technique last year as a rookie fifth-round pick (No. 174 overall). And that he was disappointed in his 1.5-sack effort.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) September 11, 2022
Similarly, Gipson enters the season as the longest-tenured lineman. But one who is also admittedly coming off a disappointing campaign. Gipson, 26, seemed on the verge of a breakout after recording 7.0 sacks in 2021. He was the third end behind established veterans Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn who set the Bears’ single-season sack record the year before.
Mack was traded last offseason, and Quinn at the deadline. Gipson responded with 3.0 sacks. That tied with defensive tackle Justin Jones for second behind safety Jaquan Brisker which offers a glimpse into just how maligned this group was last season and why there is such little faith in their ability to improve enough to consistently make a positive impact.
Gipson said he hasn’t paid attention to the chatter on social media about himself or the team’s need for another pass rusher.
He also added that he is excited about how the new additions will help the team.
Trevis Gipson ‘Appreciative’ of Last Season’s Struggles
But the biggest thing for Gipson as he heads into the final year of his rookie contract will be how he bounces back. He graded his sophomore season as a “D”. To that end, he’s also entering the season with confidence in his offseason work.
“I feel really good,” Gipson — a former fifth-round pick (No. 155 overall in 2020) — said. “Honestly, I’m more confident…I’m appreciative for the parts of my game that got exposed, as hard as that is to say. But I’m an honest man, and that’s how it is. When you get a weakness exposed, you have no other choice but to strengthen it, and that gives me confidence going into this year, knowing, especially, that I put in the work.”
Do your thing, @trevisgipson 😈
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) September 19, 2022
Working in Gipson’s favor, Green, 26, is coming off a 3.5-sack campaign with his career-high of 6.5 sacks coming in 2021. Meanwhile, Walker’s 7.0 sacks last season were a career-high mark — his previous best was 4.5 sacks in 2020.
There is an opportunity for anyone who seizes it during the preseason, and there are plenty of question marks for the Bears in that EDGE group right now. Only then, during live game action, will they truly be able to tell who can do what when called upon.
Main Photo: Jeff Lange / USA TODAY NETWORK