How Eddie Goldman makes the Chicago Bears defense expendable

eddie goldman, bears

The Chicago Bears defense dominated throughout the early portions of training camp but the biggest boost of all to the defense was the return of defensive tackle Eddie Goldman. After opting out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, Goldman returns to the NFL, after not having playing since week 17 of the 2019 season.

With Chicago breaking in a new defensive coordinator in Sean Desai, adding Goldman to a front seven that includes Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Roquan Smith, and Bilal Nichols means that the Bears are looking to crank up the pass rush. Luckily, Goldman’s presence allows the Bears pass rush to be more aggressive.

By taking on multiple double teams, Goldman sets Hicks and Mack up in one-on-one situations, making it easier for both to get after the quarterback. By being a presence in the running game, Goldman will let Smith’s speed flourish as Smith will be free to get into the backfield to make plays easily.

Cranking up Chicago’s pass rush buys the Bears secondary time in pass coverage. After moving on from Pro Bowl cornerback Kyle Fuller earlier in the offseason, the Bears will look to second-round pick Jaylon Johnson and veteran Desmond Trufant to fill the void.

“It feels amazing,” said Nichols regarding Goldman’s return.”Number one, we all know what type of caliber player Eddie is. Pro Bowler, best in his position. Just to have a dominant guy like that, right back with you, holding down the middle with Akiem on the other side, it’s amazing. We feel like we back to full strength now.”

When the Bears take the field on September 12th against the Los Angeles Rams, Goldman’s impact will be noticeable the first time that the defense takes the field. As Chicago continues training camp, Goldman’s progression from his year-long absence will be one to continue monitoring.

31 questions to Bears camp: Should we be concerned about Goldman?

eddie goldman, bears

The date for the Chicago Bears to report to training camp continues to get closer and the biggest question on defense is the status of defensive tackle Eddie Goldman. After opting out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, the expectation was that Goldman would be back in 2021. However, through OTA’s and minicamp, Goldman was rumored to be at Halas Hall but not participating in team workouts.

Goldman’s lack of participation led to questions about the DT’s status for the 2021 season. Video’s of Goldman have circulated around the internet in recent weeks but head coach Matt Nagy, defensive coordinator Sean Desai, and general manager Ryan Pace have all said the expectation is that Goldman returns in 2021.

Until the Bears officially report to Halas Hall on July 27th, there’s not necessarily a need to hit the panic button. In the past, especially with players that have missed a significant amount of time, Chicago has opted to ease players back into action. Nagy and his coaching staff could be taking a similar approach with Goldman, who hasn’t participated in any football workouts since the conclusion of the 2019 season.

The Bears know how valuable Goldman is to the defense. Comparing film on the 2019 Bears defense to the 2020 defense, it’s clear that Chicago took a step back in run defense. The reason is simple: Goldman’s absence allowed opposing offenses to run the ball up the middle, creating additional rushing opportunities.

Goldman’s presence also gives the Bears additional opportunities in the pass-rushing department. His willingness to take on double teams against offensive lineman allows for players such as Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks to get after the quarterback. The Bears secondary also benefits from the presence of Goldman simply because an aggressive pass rush gives defensive backs some margin for error.

Until Goldman officially shows his face at training camp, there isn’t necessarily a reason to be concerned but this still a situation worth monitoring because Goldman’s presence could be the difference between a good and great Bears defense in 2021.

31 questions to Bears camp: Is lack of DL depth a concern?

When the Chicago Bears report to training camp later this month, defensive line is a position that will look vastly different. A positional group that’s been led by names like Akiem Hicks over the last few years lost DL coach Jay Rodgers this offseason. Veterans Mario Edwards Jr. and Bilal Nichols will also return, despite the future of Eddie Goldman being uncertain.

Rodgers departure alone is a cause for concern, as he oversaw the development of names like Roy Robertson-Harris and Brent Urban, two names that overperformed throughout their tenure with the Bears. Both Robertson-Harris and Urban departed via free agency this offseason.

Depth for the Bears on the defensive line currently includes Angelo Blackson, Sam Kamara, LaCale London, Mike Pennel, and Khiyris Tonga. Only Blackson and Pennel have appeared in NFL games before, with Kamara, London, and Tonga being rookies or undrafted free agents.

In addition to depth being a concern, age is also another factor not being discussed enough. Nichols may be just 24 years old, however, Hicks, the undisputed leader of the position will be 32 years old in November and is set to be a free agent in 2022.

The importance of a good defensive line is simple: Defensive lineman eat up double teams, freeing up linebackers and edge rushers to make plays, while also giving the secondary more time in coverage. In the Bears context, that means names like Khalil Mack, Roquan Smith, and Eddie Jackson will have additional opportunities to make plays.

It’s possible that Blackson or Tonga emerge rather quickly but Chicago knows that on paper, this group looks a tad bit weaker compared to last year, which could impact the performance of the defense. The lack of depth is still a cause for concern, especially for a group that many viewed as being a major strength on the Bears defense, something that could change very quickly in the early parts of the 2021 season.

Is Eddie Goldman Returning to the Chicago Bears?

eddie goldman, bears

A month back, I wrote an article regarding the things I was excited about in the 2021 season. One of those things was to see the return of nose tackle Eddie Goldman. So when I heard the news that, out of all of the Chicago Bears 2020 defensive starters who reported for mandatory OTA’s, Eddie Goldman was the lone “no-show,” I was disappointed, to say the least.

Goldman’s impact on the defensive line cannot be understated. With Goldman’s presence in 2018 and 2019, the Chicago Bears had the 1st and 9th best-run defense in the NFL, respectively. With Goldman opting out of the 2020 season due to COVID concerns, the defense slipped to 18th. A considerable decline.

What are the Bears saying?

With this information in mind, Bears fans’ concerns are valid and should be shared. Rumors about Goldman retiring have been a topic of discussion on Twitter. I’m not one for “sources tell me,” so instead, I focus on what the coach has to say.

When pressed on Goldman’s absence, head coach Matt Nagy called it unexcused, stating, “Obviously when someone is not in minicamp, that’s probably what a lot of people will think and start wondering what the deal is — and that’s natural.” Nagy then finished his comment by sharing a tinge of optimism as he looked towards training camp, “We fully expect him there.”

The longest-tenured Chicago Bear and defensive captain Danny Trevathan told reporters his belief is that Eddie Goldman will return. Trevathan stated, “Eddie Goldman loves his job…I know he’s going to be here.” He then continued to give fans some insight regarding Goldman, “he’s been working his tail off, he looks totally different… he loves the Bears. He’s going to come ready for work.”

Things are looking a little sus.

I want to believe Nagy and Trevathan, but I cannot ignore the offseason acquisitions the Chicago Bears made regarding the defensive tackle position. Bringing in talent like Khyris Tonga and former Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Mike Pennel, one must wonder if the Bears are collecting collateral if Goldman does not return.

In the event Goldman does not return, Pennel and Tonga are more than adequate replacements. Pennel has hopped around the league, being drafted by Green Bay before spending two years with the New York Jets and then the Kansas City Chiefs. His career-best season occurred in 2018 with the New York Jets. He brings reliable veteran experience alongside the rookie from BYU Khyris Tonga.

Off-seasons are always shrouded with question marks. Fortunately, we’ll have our answer on July 15th when players are called to report to training camps.

Revamped Chicago Bears defensive line will face challenges in 2021

The Chicago Bears defensive line has been as good as any in the NFL over the last few years. Led by Akiem Hicks, the Bears have boasted a unit that’s generated consistent pressure, collapsed pockets, and blown up plays before they even develop. Depth has been a theme for the Bears over the last few years as well. Behind Hicks, the Bears have found solid rotational players like Roy Robertson-Harris, Mario Edwards Jr., and Brent Urban. Solid contributors like Eddie Goldman and Bilal Nichols have emerged as well.

Chicago now heads into 2021 with a new-look defensive line. Hicks will be 32 years old in November and Goldman is set to return but opted out last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nichols logged 16 starts last season, racking up five sacks, 40 tackles, and seven tackles for loss. Mario Edwards Jr. emerged as a pleasant surprise last season with four sacks and six quarterback hits.

Behind Hicks, Goldman, Nichols, and Edwards Jr. are players who have never taken a snap for the Bears. Angelo Blackson was signed in free agency. Thomas Schaffer, LaCale London, Daniel Archibong, and Khyiris Tonga are all undrafted free agents. With the departures of Robertson-Harris and Urban this offseason, Chicago lost depth.

The challenge Chicago faces is getting the most out of a positional group that’s getting older but also has some unknown commodities. Hicks, Goldman, and Nichols will form a formidable trio but when it’s time to step up, what will Blackson, Edwards Jr., London, Archibong, and the rest of the group do?

“My mentality here is just to come in and work and to compete,” Tonga said via the Bears official Youtube channel. “I think we’ve been doing that the past couple of days. Just showing speed, elusiveness, being able to be quick on my feet.”

Depth will be tested throughout the season for the Bears. If a key contributor like Hicks or Goldman goes down, the Bears need to be confident that players like Tonga and Blackson can compensate enough. The Bears are simply hoping that an aging defensive line does just enough to allow the rest of the defense to flourish.

Chicago Bears: Top 5 things to be excited about for the 2021 season

Ladies and gentlemen, after what seems like an eternity we have arrived. The offseason is entering rookie training camps, and OTA’s are around the corner. After what I can call an absolute home run of a draft, the Chicago Bears have created a ton of buzz about the 2021 season. Statistically, however, the Bears have the 3rd toughest schedule, according to CBS Sports, with a collective opponent 2020 win rate of .550. The schedule appears to be designed with rookie quarterback Justin Fields in mind, as those crafty heads up at NFL HQ slated a majority of the Bears primetime match-ups towards the latter half of the season. You know, just in case Head Coach Matt Nagy pulls the plug on the Dalton experience and throws Fields into the mix.

With all this being said, this season is shaping up to define the direction of the franchise for the next 3-4 years. I don’t foresee the Bears marching into Sofi Stadium in early February, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a plethora of people and developments to watch this season. From returning talents like James Daniel and Eddie Goldman to the continuing development of Darnell Mooney and David Montgomery. This season is sure to excite any fan. Here are the top 5 things to be excited about as a Bears fan heading into the 2021 NFL season. 

#5: The boys are back in town – Linemen win games

When burgeoning talent DT Eddie Goldman announced his decision to opt-out of the 2020 NFL season, it felt like being hit by a truck. I imagine that’s what opposing Centers and Guards felt as he tore through offensive lines with ease in 2019. I understand the decision though the game is just that – a game. Personal health and family safety will always be more important. I can only hope Goldman picks up where he left off, completing a key tandem with Akiem Hicks anchoring our rush defense.

Another returner this season is pro-bowl OL utilityman, James Daniel. This one gets me excited. After suffering a season-ending pectoral injury in week 5, Bers fans saw a carousel of line-men attempting to stabilize the front 5. Surprising breakout performances by former practice squad members Alex bars and Sam Mustipher indicate the front three interior linemen positions have both depth and talent on the roster. Daniels’ return also signals a much-needed return to stability. 

Bears GM Ryan Pace clearly made improving the Offensive Line a top priority in the off-season. Bringing in Elijah Wilkinson in Free Agency, re-signing Germain Ifedi, and trading up in the second round to steal Oklahoma State stud Teven Jenkins, while selecting Missouri big man Larry Borom in the 6th. Charles Leno and Bobbie Massie will not be returning to Chicago this season. Honestly, I’m not all that upset about it.

Jenkins will most likely get the starting nod at the left tackle spot. This leaves the Right tackle spot an area for competition. Offensive life coach Juan Castillo told reporters that “Larry Borom will compete with Germain Ifedi at RT, but Ifedi will line up at RT to start the season.” That leaves the rest of us wondering if Daniels lines up at center as he did in 2019, or at guard allowing Sam Mustipher to continue his hot play. Regardless of the endless possibilities on the interior offensive line, it looks stacked. David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen (also returning from injury) are sure to eat up the run game with James Daniel’s return to the line.

#4: This is Desai’s world, we’re just living in it 

There’s a new defensive sheriff in town, and his name is Sean Desai. A branch off the ole’ Vic Fangio tree, Sean Desai is a defensive secondary scheme savant. I love Chuck Pagano, an amazing man with an amazing story. But his secondary schemes did not play well to the secondary talent acquired under the Fangio years. After the 2018 Bears Defense dominated the league, the 2019 & 2020 Bears rewarded fans with a step back in just about every metric.

Under Desai, I strongly think the Bears defense is in store for a return to form. Desai is not only an actual professor, holding a Ph.D. from Temple University and teaching classes at Lake Forrest College, but he also schools offenses with his secondary schemes. Doc Desai’s ability to educate and communicate with players lead to his glowing review from DB Prince Amukamara. As Chicago Bears reporter with the Chicago Tribune, Brad Biggs reports, “Amukamara credits Desai for the first pick-six of his career.”

Look, I still believe Eddie Jackson is a top 5 safety in the NFL. I hope he lives up to his reputation this year under a defense that will be built on the backs of the Bears secondary. Losing Kyle Fuller may throw a wrench in Desai’s plan, but young products like Jaylon Johnson and Kendel Vildor will continue to establish themselves as dominant forces. In a schedule that features quarterbacks such as Tom Brady, Matt Stafford, Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, Lamar Jackson, Russell Willson, and more. A staunch pass defense will be a necessity if the Bears hope to see success. 

#3: From cubs into Bears – Offensive Prospects 

The 2021 Chicago Bears roster is full of 2nd and 3rd years players poised to become household names.

David Montgomery went on a tear ending the season, with over 100 yards in three out of six games. Finishing the 2020 season with just a hair over 1000 yards, I am confident we will see another 1k yard season in 2021. I’m putting my money around 1400. Expect Monty to continue his elite ability to break open-field tackles. His vision is one of the best in the league and I can’t wait to see him put defenses on notice. 

Darnell Mooney What another mid-round steal for Ryan Pace. This kid is fast, has elite hands, and is first among rookie WR’s in broken tackles according to PFF. Any rookie that buys a Juggs machine with his first paycheck then proceeds on to drop only one pass after being targeted 98 times in a season is good in my book.  His speed and route running abilities will be a feature of this offense as Justin Fields establishes himself as QB1. Mooney has a knack for burning nickel corners and getting behind safeties. Fields has a knack at throwing incredibly accurate deep balls. Let’s hope Jalen Ramsey can keep up this time. 

Anthony Miller — This one is a controversial take, a bit spicy if you will. Miller has every tool needed to be an elite slot in the NFL. He just hasn’t taken the next step. With his career on the line, I think he has every reason to do it this year. There’s valid concern around Miller’s maturity. After his late-game ejection against the Saints, many called for the Bears to ship him off during the season. I think it was a wise decision by the front office to keep Miller on staff. As wide receiver coach Mike Furrey stated, “There’s a small increment in improvement so he’s done great, he’s been in our rooms, no issues.” Drafting speedy slot Dazz Newsome also sends a blunt message to Anthony Miller, saying “we have a replacement, let us know when we need to put him in.”

#2: The Packers? What is going on over there? 

How does it feel to have talent surrounding a big question mark under center? That’s what being a Bears fan has felt like for the past three decades. Aaron Rodgers doesn’t want to play in Green Bay, and I don’t blame him. The team is refusing to let him walk, and I don’t blame them. Regardless of what happens, I have to admit this has all been extremely amusing. If Blake Bortles becomes QB1 for the Green Bay Packers, this will be one fun show to watch.  

#1.5: Getting to see live football again

My first live Chicago Bears game was in the 2015 preseason against the Kansas City Chiefs. We got blown out. But seeing Cutler, Jefferies, and Howard live was amazing. It’ll feel even more amazing to see Justin Fields and this talented unit out on the field again. There’s nothing quite like being at a Football game. I can’t wait to go back. 

#1: Fiel- I mean the Rookies. 

Pace’s trade with the New York Giants to move up to pick #11 and snag Justin Fields was the shot of adrenaline the Bears fanbase needed. After two consecutive years of letdowns, it seems like the Front Office has finally started listening to the fans. This was Ryan Pace’s best draft as GM. No contest. Pace was able to steal early-round talent late in the draft with picks like Khalil Herbert, Thomas Graham Jr., and Dazz Newsome. He filled needs in the Offensive Line with Maulers like Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom.

I’m stoked to see Justin Fields on Soldier Field. Also, these UDFA’s are fantastic as well. Charles Snowden, an early-round talent, went undrafted. The 6’7”, 240 lb monster of a man is listed early as a defensive lineman. To all the rookies, if you ever end up reading this. Take a breath. Welcome to the greatest city on Earth. Congratulations, and get ready to play some Bears football. 

Altogether, buckle up Bears fans. Though we may not win a ton of games, this team is poised to turn heads. I haven’t been this excited about a season since, well, honestly I can’t remember!