By Chris Emma–

CHICAGO (CBS) — To his credit, general manager Ryan Pace found the best way to upgrade the Bears’ defense this offseason.

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Football types will always tell you that defensive battles are won up front, and that’s how Pace attacked the offseason. He went out and signed Akiem Hicks to pair up with Eddie Goldman, then signed inside linebackers Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman to bring the Bears’ defense a new identity.

Now, Vic Fangio’s defense is vastly improved, with quite the strong front seven in place.

“It’s a different group,” quarterback Jay Cutler said of the defense. “It’s a much different group. They’re faster, they’re quicker, they have a confidence about them.”

Fresh off Super Bowl glory, Trevathan brought the Bears an instant identity. He and Freeman aren’t only talented inside linebackers but will serve as leaders for this unit.

There will be plenty of disruption up front, with Goldman and Hicks already clicking well. The two are massive presences who are quick off the snap. The vision is for Goldman and Hicks to open holes for Pernell McPhee, Willie Young, Lamarr Houston and Leonard Floyd to attack off the edges. They aim to be wrecking balls for the Bears’ front seven.

“We’re going to put on a great show this year,” Goldman said.

The Bears’ defensive front is much better after Fangio brought it competence in 2015. But what about the secondary?

While Pace went out to upgrade the front seven, the Bears were unable to find solutions in the secondary. Ideally, the pass rush will flood the backfield and wreak havoc on quarterbacks. The Bears can hope that added pressure will create opportunities for turnovers.

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In 2015, the Bears had just 17 turnovers forced — eight interceptions and nine forced fumbles. Their leader in picks was Kyle Fuller with just two.

“I want more interceptions,” Bears cornerback Tracy Porter said. “I only had one. That’s a key thing, not only for me, but the entire secondary. We want to get our hands on the ball.”

Taking away the football is what will make or break the Bears this season. During the first campaign for coach John Fox and Fangio, the Bears were close in many games but failed to get that one more turnover. They couldn’t change the game enough.

Now, the Bears have better talent in the front seven but are stuck hoping that leads to a difference in the secondary. Porter projects to start at cornerback for a second straight season, and Kyle Fuller is likely to earn the nod on the opposite end, with Bryce Callahan in the slot.

Rookies Adrian Amos and Harold Jones-Quartey did a fine last season, though each failed to record an interception. Rookies Deon Bush and DeAndre Houston-Carson are there to push them.

Members of the Bears secondary see the changes up front. They must put it together in their end. While the rest of the defense improved, the Bears are largely the same at cornerback and safety. This team is hoping its defensive front makes the difference.

Pace was right to start up front in building a better defense. Now, the secondary must do its part.

“Those guys in the front seven,” Porter said, “they’re going to do their job to force quarterbacks into making bad passes. We got to make them pay for it.”

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Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.