Jared Allen to the Chicago Bears is finally a reality.
The defensive end recently signed a four-year, $32 million dollar deal with the team back in March, and the signing only helps bolster a unit that needs all the help it can get after struggling all season against both the run and pass.
With the Vikings, Allen amassed 128.5 sacks, good for 12th all-time. The next closest is Lawrence Taylor at 10 with 132.5 sacks, so Bears fans will no doubt see him move up the all-time list. With the multiple signings the Bears have made to the defense, and the resigning of some key players in Charles Tillman, Jeremiah Ratliff, Nate Collins, and former Bear Israel Idonije, they have certainly made a strong attempt at re-entering the “Monsters of the Midway” mindset that had dominated the team for so long.
The Bears are considered by some to officially be contenders with the Allen signing, but let’s take a look at some other integral pieces to the defensive puzzle.
Chicago Bears’ offseason defensive additions
Phil Emery and the front office staff have done a great job this offseason of addressing the weaknesses of the team last year and ensuring a better on-field defensive product for 2014.
Signing defensive end Lamarr Houston to a five-year deal was the first big splash Emery made, and this will give the Bears a great option off the line. Also, he’s coming off a breakout year in which he had 69 total tackles, six sacks and two forced fumbles. On top of that, he turns 27 in June, which is encouraging to have a young, fiery breakout star coming off the line.
He will be a great replacement for Julius Peppers, who declined in production as the season wore on due to injuries and simply not being able to get to the quarterback fast enough, which ultimately led to the termination of his contract. While the Bears will remain in their traditional 4-3 scheme, but new linebackers coach Reggie Herring and defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni have experience with multiple schemes that the Bears will no doubt explore with the high-caliber players they have on defense.
Another big signing to the defensive line was former Detroit Lions defensive end Willie Young, who agreed to a three-year deal with the Bears a day after the Houston signing. Young started 15 games for the Lions last year and had three sacks along with 47 tackles. He is known for being extremely disruptive in terms of getting to the quarterback, which is great news for the Bears as they had lapses in that aspect last season.
Adding special teams coverage specialist Jordan Senn gives the Bears some depth in an area in which they let up some big returns last year. While the Bears signed former New York Giants safety Ryan Mundy and former Green Bay Packers safety M.D. Jennings to a two-year deal and a one-year deal, respectively, in an attempt to improve a very poor area of the Bears’ secondary in 2013, it will be interesting to see if they contribute right out of the gate.
Both Mundy and Jennings will compete for the position that belonged to Chris Conte, who will miss four to five months due to a shoulder surgery. Conte’s struggles were well-documented throughout the season, so this will be something to keep an eye on as the season gets closer.
With the many offseason signings, the Bears have made it clear they want to reign supreme on the defensive side of the ball in 2014. The Draft is looming, so look for the Bears to reaffirm their desire for defensive supremacy in early May.