Finally, the Chicago Bears did something to bolster the weakest position on the team. The offensive line has struggled at times, but continuity has been their biggest problem. That group entered Week 1 down two starters and their starting left tackle has been on the IR since Week 3. The biggest problem for the Bears’ defensive line has been making plays against NFL competition. They are hoping that will change with the addition of Montez Sweat.
On Halloween/NFL Trade Deadline Day 2023, the Bears sent their second-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft to the Washington Commanders to acquire Sweat per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. There had been rumors heading into the deadline that the Commanders were willing to break up their stout, young, defensive line.
Even with the return of 2020 No. 2 overall pick, and Defensive Rookie of the Year, Chase Young, Washington’s defense took a massive step backwards this season. They were a top-10 unit in Defensive DVOA last season, a major reason being their line. Even with Young back in the lineup, they had fallen to 26th.
For the Bears, there has been nowhere for their defense to fall the last two seasons. They had the worst DVOA in the NFL last season and are 30th in 2023. The biggest problem has been their lack of pass rush. They tried to remedy the problem by signing journeyman defensive ends Yannick Ngakoue and DeMarcus Walker during the offseason. Through eight weeks, the Bears have the least number of sacks — 10 — and third-lowest QB pressures — 46.
Sweat is top 10 in the NFL in both sacks and pressure, improving on his eight-sack, 2022 season. His world is going to change very quickly. No longer is he part of an entire group that is highlighted on the scouting report. Sweat will be considered the top priority to stop by every offense the Bears play the rest of this season.
Also, for the second season in a row, the Bears have traded a second-round pick at the deadline. Last year they still ended up with two picks in that round, but the pick they traded turned out to be No. 33 overall. They used it to draft promising cornerback Joey Porter Jr., who still needs some serious work on tackling. Also, they received Chase Claypool in return whom they traded to the Miami Dolphins for a can of dolphin-safe tuna.
Taking a big trade-deadline swing with a second-round pick might be too spicy of a move for most general managers, but Ryan Poles is fighting for his job. His rebuild did not have to result in a NFC North Championship in 2023, but the team should be better.
Their record is currently worse than it was at this point last season. They managed three wins through eight games in a season in which the roster was intentionally gutted to hoard cap space and draft capital. A second season in Luke Getsy’s offense for Justin Fields, D.J. Moore as his No. 1 pass catcher, a defense in its second-season running Matt Eberflus’ 4-3 scheme with some reinforcements, the Bears were not expected to be fighting for the worst record in the NFL with the team whose first-round draft pick they own .
This season has to be salvaged in some way, and certainly Tyson Bagent check-down passes aren’t going to get the job done. In order to win some games, the Bears defense has to be better. The rest of the season could not go by with opposing quarterbacks operating from the pocket like the current month on the calendar reads May and not October.
A second-consecutive trade of a second-round pick could be the final nail in the coffin for Poles’ tenure as Bears general manager, but the move shows that he is fighting to emerge from it like The Undertaker.
Sweat has produced like one of the best pass rushers in the league this season, and is well on the way to the first double-digit sack total of his career. Poles is hoping that adding that type of talent can bolster the rest of the pass-rush closer to a league-average level.
With only the Cleveland Browns and two games against the Detroit Lions remaining as true playoff contenders on the Bears’ schedule, maybe Sweat is the juice that will salvage this season and convince management to give Poles another shot next year.
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