Tag Archives: Chase Young

Bears GM Sends Strong Message on Plans to Fix Glaring Roster Flaw

If nothing else, Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles sees the same thing as the fans do when he looks at the roster – the absence of a proven pass rusher which is rather startling considering his franchise’s defense just tallied 20 sacks this past season, the fewest in the entire league.

They have gone through the bulk of free agency and the entire NFL Draft without adding a pure EDGE defender, instead adding veteran DeMarcus Walker – who is more of a hybrid lineman – and some undrafted free agents.

Appearing on ESPN 1000 on May 12, Poles addressed the current state of the roster and his plans to add a proven pass rusher to this group that made key additions at every other level.

Ryan Poles Hints at Plans to Fix Bears’ Roster Flaw

“I think of my group, and we’ve proven that we’re always investigating options – via trade, signing someone that’s still available post-free agency. So we don’t really stop looking for talent. And so right now, I would just say we’re active, looking around, and maybe something will happen here soon.”

Poles covered a slew of topics from expectations for the team (it’s always to win) to individual players such as wide receiver Chase Claypool whom Poles said he still believes can be a “high performer” in the NFL.

He also made a telling admission about Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter whom Poles passed on in trading out of the No. 9 overall pick allowing the Philadelphia Eagles to strike.

There is a lot of excitement about rookie defensive tackles Gervon Dexter Sr., Zacch Pickens, and Travis Bell, judging from Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus’ comments. Still, the lack of a bonafide pass rusher will remain the focal point of fans and detractors.

The Bears Free Agent EDGE Rushing Options

As Poles noted, there are two distinct paths the Bears can take and both have some fairly defined options given the team’s needs. Among free agents, their best options appear to be Frank Clark, Jadeveon Clowney, former Bear Leonard Floyd, and former Indianapolis Colts/journeyman sack artist Yannick Ngakoue.

Of those, Ngakoue, 28, led the way with 9.5 sacks this past season. He comes from the Colts and, while he missed Eberflus by one season, the coach likely has all of the intel he needs.

Floyd, 30, has had at least 9.0 sacks in each of his three seasons since leaving the Bears.

Clark and Clowney combined for 5.0 sacks last season while Walker recorded 7.0 in a breakout season for the Tennessee Titans. The rest of the options – names such as Trey Flowers (0 sacks), Markus Golden (4.0 sacks), or Kyle Van Noy (5.0 sacks) – don’t address the issue.

Veteran Justin Houston logged 9.5 sacks last season for the Baltimore Ravens but is 34 years old and likely looking to compete for a championship.

Beyond that are the likes of Al-Quadin Muhammad and Robert Quinn.

Potential Bears Trade Targets

One of the first names that come to mind when anyone mentions the possibility of trading for a pass rusher is Chase Young of the Washington Commanders who will play host to the Bears in Week 5 next season. Washington declined the former No. 2 overall pick’s fifth-year option. Young has appeared in just 12 games (11 starts) over the last two seasons due to injury.

However, not only is Young one of the best young pass rushers when he is healthy but the Commanders are set to undergo a change in ownership which clouds just how active they will look to be until then.

Another option is Carl Lawson, 27, who had 7.0 sacks last season. He is in the final year of a three-year, $45 million contract with a $15 million cap hit in 2023.

Lawson is not expected to be cut so a trade would be the only way to use him to create space to accommodate other moves in the wake of adding Aaron Rodgers. If that is the case, the Bears might be wise to take a swing – as multiple teams likely would – even if there is a risk Lawson is a rental who bolts in free agency next season.

Quarterbacks (Unsurprisingly) Dominating Off-Season Headlines

All of you “defense wins championships” folks will hate to read this but, the 2020 NFL off-season is just another dominated by quarterbacks. They’ve dominated the headlines and are the object around which NFL general managers formulate their off-season plans. Even the ones who are trying to build their defenses do so with the intent of negating opposing quarterbacks.

Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs just gave us our most recent example of this playing out. A stout San Francisco 49ers defense (2nd in yards per game allowed) couldn’t hold the third-year, former MVP down for an entire four quarters. In a league that has shifted so far towards favoring offenses, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Quarterback Talk Will Dominate Headlines Again


Since the league went to 32 teams, the NFL has seen its average pass completions per game jump from 20.1 in 2002 to 22.1 in 2019. It should also be noted that the 2002 number was a relative outlier. The average was around 19.3 and lower the six years prior and four years after the ‘02 season. But all this proves is that teams are passing that much more, right?

Wrong! In this same period, pass attempts have gone from 33.8 18 years ago to 34.9 this past season. That’s an increase of nearly three completions per game but only 1.1 more attempts. Put simply, quarterbacks got more accurate as displayed in the average completion percentage rising nearly four points from 59.6 percent to 63.5 percent.

Any number of metrics can back this up, but we only need to look at the headlines to see the trend. Mahomes winning Super Bowl MVP aside, the next biggest talking point has been about where Tom Brady will play in 2020. He’s 42 years old and didn’t have his best season (statistically or via the eye test) but that hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from churning.


Among the many hypothesized destinations have been the newly-dubbed Las Vegas Raiders, the Los Angeles Chargers, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In addition to the potential drawbacks to making a large commitment to a quarterback who is less than a decade away from AARP eligibility, all of these teams have quarterbacks either in place or in limbo.

Those incumbents have also been the subjects of trade rumors in their own rights. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers recently moved (a la Brady) to Florida turning up the volume on speculation he could be elsewhere in 2020. Cam Newton has been tabbed by speculators to replace him in L.A. after his Carolina Panthers hired a new head coach and general manager.

It isn’t just the big-name guys getting all the headlines either. Cincinnati Bengals free-agent quarterback Andy Dalton, an average starting quarterback by most metrics, has been spoken of as a possible savior for teams viewed by many as being a “quarterback away” from being true contenders. Even perceived busts like Marcus Mariota of the Tennessee Titans have been given new life by the rumor mill.


The NFL Draft is in April and guess what position the presumed first pick, Joe Burrow, plays. Yep, quarterback. A draft that is thought to be strong at wide receiver and other skill positions could have five passers go in the first round. Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa is one of those prospects and he is recovering from a serious hip injury just to illustrate.

Ohio State defensive end Chase Young at the top of a lot of big boards and the Bengals have a significant need for a pass rusher. But that is dwarfed by their need to upgrade the quarterback position. This illustrates the shift in ideology. Rather than build from the trenches, Cincinnati is set to pick Burrow based on one (historic) season.

Even supposed projects or guys missing something are getting first-round love. Justin Herbert was buzzing last year but needed the Senior Bowl to solidify his spot near the top of the draft. The Jacob Easons and Jordan Loves of the world, though, are first-rounders based more on potential than production.

Face Facts

This isn’t some earth-shattering revelation. The transition to a quarterback-driven league has been advertised and vocalized to the point that it’s almost fait accompli you’ll hear “it’s a quarterback-driven league” after a play. The announcers and pundits know it. The fans know it.

Even the league knows it. After revamping the protections on quarterbacks and receivers some years back, the NFL did so again recently. The most heavily debated being challenging pass interference. It’s a change that can and has aided defenses but was clearly developed with offenses in mind.

This might not even just apply to current and future quarterbacks either. It’s fair to wonder if the controversial Colin Kaepernick would be such a lightning rod if he played any other position. His very vocal supporter and former teammate Eric Reid did sign a multi-year deal last February.

Headlines Were Made for Quarterbacks

Again, this isn’t exactly new or revolutionary, we’ve always idolized the quarterback position.  But it has become more intentional along with the devaluation of the running back has been the elevation of the quarterback. Super Bowl Sunday was just a reminder that while defense wins (conference) championships, it is quarterbacks that win Super Bowls.