People don’t think much of the Chicago Bears roster right now. That is easy to understand after it finished 6-11 last year and then jettisoned several of its best veterans like Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, and Allen Robinson. In most people’s minds, this team is gutted and starting over from scratch. That isn’t entirely true. There are still some really good players on the roster, some of whom are underappreciated.
The interesting discussion is which of them might be the most overlooked. There are definite candidates. Roquan Smith has two second-team All-Pro nods but hasn’t made the Pro Bowl despite four excellent seasons. Jaylon Johnson is one of the better young cornerbacks in the NFC. Darnell Mooney cracked 1,000 yards last year, but nobody talks about him. Yet surprisingly, they were the choice of the analytics specialists at Football Outsiders. They believe the guy people aren’t talking about enough is Trevis Gipson.
“Gipson emerged as a strong No. 3 and spot starter for the Bears last season, racking up seven sacks and 15 hurries in just under 500 snaps. Though a bit raw in his approach, Gipson has good length, functional strength and stunning flashes of bend around the corner. If Gipson can use this year’s opportunity as a starter to take another step forward, the Bears may have a real difference-maker on their hands.”
Chicago Bears have set up Gipson for a big year.
His seven sacks last season on limited snaps were impressive. Things are changing now. With Mack out of the picture, Gipson is a favorite to start at defensive end opposite Robert Quinn. Also, Matt Eberflus is shifting the team to a 4-3 alignment. That means Gipson is moving to the position he played in college. There won’t be any more dropping into coverage. His entire focus will be hunting the quarterback.
Gipson has said how much he loves the new defense already. It’s simplified and allows him to play fast. That is what the Chicago Bears want. When players have to think less, they execute better. If Gipson could get seven sacks in a more complicated defense last year, it’s terrifying to wonder what he might do this season. If he does take that next step, the Bears defense will be set for a rapid rebound with him, Johnson, and Smith as the next core.