UA-59049186-1 2021 Chicago Bears Preview: Inside Linebacker - Good if it Goes

2021 Chicago Bears Preview: Inside Linebacker

(Photo credit: Joe Robbins, Getty Images)

Hailed by youth football coaching legend Coach Letterman as one of the greatest Americans of all time, Roquan Smith returns for his fourth year in the league. Coming out of Georgia in 2018, Smith boasted a tape that elicited a response of “this dude is Derrick Brooks” from your author. With ample coverage skills, the ability to play sideline to sideline, and the capability to deliver punishing hits, Roquan has pretty much everything you could want from a linebacker in today’s NFL. After a strong rookie season in 2018, Roquan took a step back the following year, but that proved to be nothing more than a sophomore slump as he turned in an excellent 2020 campaign, finishing seventh in the league in tackles, second in solo tackles, and, most prestigious of all, winning the Stars of the Game title from your author. This space asserts that 2021 will see further ascent towards full-blown Derrick Brooks status.

Danny Trevathan returns for his tenth year in blue and orange and sixth in the Chicago variety. Signed as a free agent before the 2016 season in what has turned out to be one of Ryan Pace’s best moves as Bears general manager, Trevathan showed a year ago that while he may have lost a step, he’s still a more-than-capable linebacker, adept in both in the run and passing games. When healthy, that is. Unfortunately, he is not currently healthy and will miss at least the first three games of the season as he starts the year on injured reserve. It’s hardly Trevathan’s first injury as a Bear – last year was only the second in Chicago where he played all 16 games and third where he reached double digit games played. That part’s not ideal. Fortunately, this year, the Bears have more depth at the linebacker position and can withstand the injury.

Alec Ogletree has one of the more interesting paths to Chicago of anyone on this year’s team. A first-round pick out of Georgia in 2013 by the then-St. Louis Rams, Ogletree played five years with the team, following them to Los Angeles, before being traded to the Giants before the start of the 2018 season. After a 2018 season that saw him set a career high in interceptions, Ogletree’s play took a hit the following year and he was cut by the Giants after that. The former Bulldog worked out for the Bears last summer before ultimately staying in New York, this time for the Jets. As a Jet, he appeared in two games, started one, and registered three total tackles. Ogletree worked out for the Bears again this summer, then made another trip up to watch Robert Quinn’s Olympian sister run the hurdles on TV at Halas Hall. While on that trip, he was informed by his agent that the Bears wanted to sign him. Ogletree made his presence felt immediately at camp, where for a few days, his interception streak was a major storyline. He figures to start alongside Roquan Smith while Danny Trevathan is injured and maybe even after.

Providing further depth at linebacker is a familiar face: Christian Jones. From his Welcome post:

“Jones was signed by the Bears as an undrafted free agent out of Florida State in 2014 and played for the team from 2014-17. The former Seminole saw quality playing time three of those years and was generally solid when on the field. Jones signed with Detroit prior to the 2018 season and while he never produced as well as he did in the navy and orange, at the very least, he should provide quality depth in Chicago.”

The fact that he’s the #4 ILB is a serious improvement from a year ago, where, as that same welcome post pointed out, some injuries at a spot where the team could ill afford them led them to start Manti Te’o in a playoff game. That he was around to do anything other than provide intel on the Saints shows just how bad things got a year ago, since that playoff game was the only game he played for anyone last season, and the year before that, he played in three games in New Orleans where he recorded a total of six tackles. R.I.P.I.P. Lennay Kekua, Bishop Sycamore Class on 2009.

Josh Woods and Joel Iyiegbuniwe, henceforth known as “Iggy,” because obviously, both showed flashes during the pre-season and consequently, made the 53-man roster. The pair has a total of 44 career NFL tackles between them, but at the very least, would be better than Mr. Fake Dead Girlfriend if pressed into action. (I promise that, at some point, I will let that go, but that point is not right now, because even though I didn’t expect them to win that playoff game, he had no business anywhere near the field, like seriously, come on man.)

Twitter: @KSchroeder_312

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *