Underdog report: 2024 Chicago Bears

underdog report: 2024 chicago bears

Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus.

The 2023 Chicago Bears finished at the bottom of the NFC North for the second time in three years. Here’s how they get out of the cellar in 2024.

Biggest need: Defense

The Bears’ pass rush needs serious help next year. While Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. is tempting, Chicago has bigger needs on the other side of the ball.

In 2023, the Bears ranked 28th in takeaways (28), 25th in pass defense (237.8 yards per game) and 31st in sacks (30) after finishing last in sacks (20) in 2022. If not for the team’s top-ranked run defense, Chicago’s defense would have been much worse last year.

Free agent target: EDGE Danielle Hunter, Minnesota Vikings

With free agents like Jacksonville’s Josh Allen and Carolina’s Brain  Burns likely to receive franchise tags, Hunter would be a godsend for new defensive coordinator Eric Washington. The 29-year-old linebacker led the Vikings with 16.5 sacks last season and has 462 tackles, 87.5 sacks and 11 forced fumbles in eight years with Minnesota.

Draft target: EDGE Dallas Turner, Alabama

If the Bears can’t get Hunter from their division rival, Turner would be a good consolation prize. Tom Fornelli of CBS.com calls Turner the best pure pass-rusher in the draft and Pro Football Focus ranks the six-foot-four, 242-pound linebacker as the best edge defender and 14th best prospect in the 2024 NFL draft.

Reason for optimism: Draft picks

With a pair of top-10 picks in the upcoming draft, Chicago can afford to address short and long-term goals. USC quarterback Caleb Williams remains an option with the No. 1 pick, but the Bears will receive quite a haul if they decide to stick with Fields and trade back.

Reason for concern: Matt Eberflus

The Bears head coach has a 10-24 record over the past two seasons. Once thought to be a lame duck, Chicago decided to bring him back in 2024, albeit with new offensive and defensive coordinators.

The Philadelphia Eagles had a pair of new coordinators working under head coach Nick Sirianni in 2023. That didn’t go well at all.

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