Chicago Bears must start key rookie for defense to improve

Chicago Bears defensive lineman Gervon Dexter has improved as the season progresses. He should be starting if the team wants to improve the defense.
Chicago Bears
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The Chicago Bears offense has taken a big step forward. In the past two weeks, it has been clicking like we've rarely seen. They put up 68 points and amassed 922 yards. Despite only having one victory in the two weeks, there is renewed hope that the offense is finally moving in the right direction.

Chicago faces a weak defense in the Minnesota Vikings this week so the offensive explosion should continue. Minnesota ranks 23rd in scoring defense and 19th in yards. Against the pass, however, they rank 22nd in yards, 28th in touchdowns, and 29th in interceptions. Quarterback Justin Fields should continue his hot hand.

The worry, however, is the defense. Once again, the Chicago Bears' defense is struggling. Chicago ranks 30th in scoring defense and 29th in yards. The pass defense is especially ugly. The Bears rank 31st in both yards and touchdowns and 18th in interceptions.

One of the concerns with the defense is the defensive line. There has not been much of a pass rush. The Bears went into last week's game against the Washington Commanders with just two sacks in four games. They did do better, however. They sacked Washington quarterback Sam Howell five times in the game. A big reason for that was having a certain rookie play significant snaps.

In order for the Chicago Bears defense to improve, Gervon Dexter needs to start.

Dexter played on 47 percent of the snaps against Washington. He responded with a nice game. He pressured the quarterback, registering two quarterback hits. He even had a pass defended. His play was a big reason the Bears ended their 14-game losing streak.

Dexter was the Chicago Bears' second-round pick in this year's draft. The coaches have high hopes for his development. However, they have gone up and down in his usage. He was in 38 percent and 46 percent in his first two games. Then the percentage dropped to 31 percent in Week 3. In Week 4, he had his lowest usage percentage, 21 percent. He could only stand on the sideline and watch as the defense had a total collapse in the fourth quarter.

Part of the problem with Dexter's slow start was how the Bears used him. At the University of Florida, the coaching staff had the 6-foot-6, 312-pound Dexter finesse his way on the field. Instead of having him attack, using his brute strength and athletic ability to get into the backfield. Instead, they used his athleticism to drop back and wreak havoc against the pass.

In contrast, the Bears want Dexter to wreak havoc in the backfield. They want him to constantly be on the attack. After doing the opposite in college, it was a big adjustment for Dexter. However, it seems that he is making that adjustment and we could start seeing more of what we saw against Washington.

The Bears continue to use Justin Jones as the starting three-technique. He did not impress many with his play there last season and this season is more of the same. Dexter is the future of this defense and should already be the starter. The more snaps he plays the more the experience helps improve him.

The Bears desperately need the interior of the defensive line to make a push and pressure up the middle. When that happens it frees up space for the pass rushers at the ends. That happened last week. With the pressure up the middle, three of the Bears' pass rushers had sacks. In fact, the Bears were also able to get sacks from cornerback Greg Stroman and linebacker TJ Edwards.


It is time for the Chicago Bears to finally decide to do what they want to do eventually -- make Dexter the starter. He will bloom as he receives more snaps. He and Andrew Billings can make a good duo and do what the coaches want -- to add pressure to the opponents' backfield. The sooner they do that, the sooner the defense will improve.

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