Chicago's evolving front seven remains one of the NFC's more under-the-radar position groups.
The linebacking unit is deep and versatile with Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman roaming the inside and Pernell McPhee, Lamarr Houston and first-rounder Leonard Floyd rushing from the edge. With linemen Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman up front, the Bears have completely reimagined a unit that finished 30th overall just two seasons ago.
"I can't really say what we're going to do," Goldman said this week, per CSN Chicago. "I know what we plan to do. It's looking like a vicious front, because we have a combination of speed and strength."
Goldman was a sensational addition last year, piling up 4.5 sacks and playing well against the run in a rotational rookie role. Slimming down from 340 to 325 pounds, Goldman has made it a goal to add more speed to his game for a Chicago club that plans to make life difficult for Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the NFC North's band of quarterbacks.
"Three hundred and twenty-five is the ideal weight for me, at least from the perspective of the coaches," Goldman said. The effect is "moving faster. My foot-quickness, and it helps with your stamina, too."
The Bears have taken notice, using Goldman in more pass-rush situations, with defensive line coach Jay Rodgers saying: "We're always going to put the best people out there on the field. You've heard coach (John) Fox say, 'You're role is whatever you make of it.' So if (Goldman's) showing up on tape as a guy who's producing in pass-rush situations, we're going to put him in there."
Today, the Bears are overshadowed in their own division by the Packers and Vikings, but Chicago has a chance to hang around in the North if this defense continues to trend upward. With a versatile cast of pass rushers and linemen to pick from, play-caller Vic Fangio has the tools to duplicate some of the magic he created in San Francisco before the Jim Harbaugh era spiraled to earth.