By Chris Emma–
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) — Confidence isn’t lacking for the Bears’ revamped front seven.
Each day, these players see each other perform. It’s Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Willie Young, Leonard Floyd, Danny Trevathan, Jerrell Freeman and more. There’s talent at linebacker and on the defensive line.
They know what they’re capable of.
“Everybody is super athletic and can do the job up front,” Hicks said. “It’s just that we have to work together, cohesively as a unit.”
Last Sunday’s season opener in Houston brought a mixed bag for Chicago’s defensive front. There were positives to take away, such as Floyd’s first NFL sack, but the unit struggled in the second half.
The Bears defense failed to get off the field as the pass rush couldn’t generate any pressure on Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler.
Never one to mince words, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio gave a one-word assessment of the pass rush.
“Average,” he said.
Many concerns arose in the opener. The statistic that stood out above all was that the Texans were 12-of-20 on third-down conversions. Sure, the Bears need to be better on third down, but they also need to buckle down on first and second downs, too.
This Sunday brings a new challenge, one in which the Bears should have an advantage. Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz is coming to Soldier Field for his first regular-season road game. The crowd will be hostile, the spotlight will be bright and the second overall pick out of North Dakota State needs to produce.
“He’s pretty damn impressive,” Fangio said of Wentz. “It looks now that Philadelphia is going to be very well rewarded for the risk they took on drafting (him). They gave up a lot of stuff to get this guy, because he looks like he’s going to be a long-term hell of a quarterback.”
It’s up to Fangio and his unit to make Wentz’s night in Chicago miserable. Fangio will be the one dialing up the blitzes and creating chaos for the rookie — at least that’s the goal.
The front seven must follow through on Fangio’s commands and create pressure.
Hicks recalls the Bears’ first defensive possession Sunday. The front seven came out firing, ready to take over the game.
“Unbelievable energy,” he said. “Everybody was so ready to play. I think we came out and played a great first half, and we really let up in the second half. We got to make sure we don’t mess up that situation again.”
Even after a debut that brought mixed results, the Bears feel that their front seven will disrupt Wentz come Monday night. Keep in mind that this group is expected to carry the defense, which isn’t strong in the secondary. Pressure’s on to create pressure.
There’s no lack of confidence for Hicks and the front seven. Now, they must show results, too.
“It’s only going to get better,” he said. “I’m extremely optimistic.”