Bears

Presented By Mullin
Bears

When linebacker Pernell McPhee arrived last offseason, his self-portrait for playing style consisted of one word: “violent.” Knee issues aside, McPhee’s description proved apt.

One emerging centerpiece of last year’s defense and a foundation pillar of this year’s and beyond — nose tackle Eddie Goldman — has an early take on what should be expected from the front seven where it matters:

“I can’t really say what we’re going to do,” Goldman said during OTA's. “I know what we plan to do. It’s looking like a vicious front, because we have a combination of speed and strength.”

Goldman, the Bears’ second-round selection in the 2015 NFL Draft, is expected to be a critical component for both “speed and strength.” He was a linchpin last year in defending against the run while also managing 4.5 sacks despite not being a full-time member of the four-man front used by the Bears in pass situations.

The plan now is for Goldman, who struggled with conditioning this time last year and into early training camp, to ratchet up the “speed” portion of his game. After playing in the range of 340 pounds last season, Goldman’s plan is to play at something around 325 pounds — nearly the same as new down-lineman Akiem Hicks.

The upshot is that, even in non-contact OTA practices, Goldman is getting a serious look at being more than a run stuffer.

 

“We’re always going to put the best people out there on the field,” said defensive line coach Jay Rodgers. “You’ve heard coach (John) Fox say, ‘You’re role is whatever you make of it.’ So if he’s showing up on tape as a guy who’s producing in pass-rush situations, we’re going to put him in there.

“I have no reservations of labeling guys ends and noses, when we get in nickel situations and they’re the best two [interior] guys on the field. That doesn’t matter to me. It’s the best two guys on the field. And if they’re tired, it’s the next best guy on the field, whatever position they play. And sometimes your nose is a better pass rusher than a guy who’s playing end, that’s why he was out there a lot.”

And there is always room for a little more “vicious” in a pass rush, particularly one that was only a middling 12th in sacks per pass play last season. Goldman’s weight loss projects to create more of a role for himself.

“325 is the ideal weight for me, at least from the perspective of the coaches,” Goldman said. The effect is “moving faster. My foot-quickness, and it helps with your stamina, too.”