Bears

15 Most Important Bears of 2018: No. 8 - Eddie Goldman

15 Most Important Bears of 2018: No. 8 - Eddie Goldman

Eddie Goldman is entering the final year of his contract this season and in order to cash in on a big payday, he'll need to stay healthy and make good on his top-tier potential. 

If he does, he'll become a very wealthy man and the Bears defense will have an even better year than its top-10 finish a season ago.

Goldman, 24, came to Chicago via the second round of the 2015 NFL draft and quickly became a household name among Bears fans. He started 12 games that season and finished with a surprising 4 1/2 sacks, a total that was more productive than his college scouting report predicted. He was pegged as a breakout star for 2016, but injuries ultimately derailed his second season. He played only six games that year (started five) but still flashed a surprisingly productive set of pass-rush traits; he finished 2016 with 2 1/2 sacks.

This past season represented something of a mixed bag for Goldman. He started 15 games and quieted some of the injury concerns that started bubbling around him, but his production dipped. He managed only 1 1/2 sacks. That said, he set a career-high with 27 tackles, nearly doubling his output as a rookie.

Still, Goldman wasn't a dominant force in 2017. He finished the year ranked 69th among interior defenders with a 76.3 grade from Pro Football Focus. Despite being healthy and available, it was the lowest season grade of his career from PFF.

Nose tackle is arguably the most critical position for any defense running a 3-4 scheme. It's no exception in Chicago. Goldman will set the table for linebackers Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith and the more bodies he can consume or attention he can draw from offensive lines, the more room second-level defenders will have to work. It's not just about filling up the stat sheet for Goldman. If he clogs running lanes and collapses the pocket consistently, he'll be worth every penny of a big contract extension despite lacking numbers.

The Bears need Goldman to bring his A-game in 2018, especially as a pass rusher. Chicago resides in arguably the most talented quarterback division in the NFL and for the defense to make those quarterbacks uncomfortable, Goldman has to apply pressure up the middle. He's proven he can do it, as evidenced by his rookie year production. But he's been on a steady decline in this area of his game since then and there's no room for more regression in 2018.

Players entering contract years tend to bring extra motivation to the field and there's no reason to expect anything less from Goldman. If he can combine his rookie year production with last season's availability, he could end up with the most well-rounded year of his career en route to leading the Bears' defensive line on a late-season playoff push.

Cody Parkey will kick at Soldier Field Wednesday night

11-11codyparkey.jpg
USA Today

Cody Parkey will kick at Soldier Field Wednesday night

Cody Parkey downplayed the significance of going to practice kicking at Soldier Field Wednesday night, saying he’s heading there to “check all my boxes” and that “it can’t hurt.”

But Parkey’s trip from Halas Hall to the lakefront is noteworthy in the aftermath of the Bears’ kicker missing four PAT/field goal attempts, all of which went off an upright, in Sunday’s 34-22 win over the Detroit Lions. It’ll result in a long day for Parkey, who estimated he’d get back to Halas Hall around 11 p.m. Wednesday night. 

“As a kicker, this is my fifth season doing this, I’ve had highs, I’ve had lows,” Parkey said. “So unfortunately it comes with the territory sometimes. I don’t get down on myself, I know I’m a great kicker. I’m just gonna go out there Sunday and try my best.”

Parkey hasn’t got caught up in the reaction to his historically-bad game, staying off social media and saying he couldn’t care less about ignominiously making a Jimmy Fallon monologue this week. 

“I go home to my wife and my dog, and they don’t really care if I make field goals or not,” Parkey said. “So I find peace in that. I talk to my family, stuff like that. But I don’t beat myself up, I don’t go on social media, I don’t do any of that. I could care less about what anyone thinks of me other than people in this locker room.”

Logistically, getting to Soldier Field from Halas Hall can be an traffic-fueled annoyance, but it’s one the Bears felt was important enough to go ahead and do. Former Bears kickers Robbie Gould and Kevin Butler used to practice kicking at Soldier Field during the week, for what it’s worth. 

The Bears will need Parkey to be better on Sunday night against the Minnesota Vikings, in what could be a close, critical game for control of the NFC North. But Parkey won’t change his mental approach for that night, even if his midweek work is now switched up a bit. 

“Same as last week, same as the week before,” Parkey said. “I just try to go out there and make my kicks.”

PFF grades Mitchell Trubisky, Bryce Callahan as Bears' best against Lions

PFF grades Mitchell Trubisky, Bryce Callahan as Bears' best against Lions

Everything seemed to click for Mitchell Trubisky against the Detroit Lions. Matt Nagy called it his best game of the season, even surpassing his breakout performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back in Week 4.

Pro Football Focus largely agreed with the Bears’ head coach, as Trubisky was the offense’s highest-graded starter in the game at 88.6 overall.

The young quarterback particularly excelled under pressure, a big step forward from previous weeks. He had a perfect 158.3 passer rating under duress, going 5-of-6 for 89 yards and a touchdown according to PFF.

He wasn’t much worse from a clean pocket, completing 75 percent of his passes for 266 yards and a 138.5 passer rating.

Trubisky had only one incompletion on passes less than 10 yards down field, and PFF credited him with two avoided tackles on scrambles past the line of scrimmage.

On the other side of the ball, cornerback Bryce Callahan led the way with a 90.3 overall grade, the highest grade of any cornerback in Week 10.

PFF charted him with six targets in coverage, and he allowed three catches for only 16 yards to go with one PD and his interception.

Callahan added a sack and two hurries on only four blitzes, continuing his strongest season to date in the slot.

He and wide receiver Allen Robinson made PFF’s Team of the Week for their performances against the Lions: