Matt Eberflus Hints at Need Team Will Address Next: ‘It’s Important We Do That’

Matt Eberflus

Getty Head coach Matt Eberflus of the Chicago Bears.

I t’s fair to say the Chicago Bears have one of the youngest and most talented rosters they have had in quite some time.

They could still use another edge rusher and a defensive tackle, though, and head coach Matt Eberflus recently stated the team is likely going to address the latter position.

“You look at who affects the quarterback the most, I would argue that the inside piece is also something that we should be looking at, and it’s important that we do that,” Eberflus said at the annual NFL owners meetings in Orlando on March 26. “Direct line to the quarterback. When they max protect, it’s a soft spot in the protection.”

The Bears have two young interior defensive lineman in Gervon Dexter and Zacch Pickens, but neither is a proven game-wrecker or consistently reliable run-stuffer. After losing veteran Justin Jones in free agency to the Arizona Cardinals, addressing the position became far more important for Chicago.

Can Gervon Dexter Emerge in Year 2?

The Bears selected Dexter, a standout at the University of Florida with the Gators, in Round 2 of the 2023 draft, before taking Pickens (South Carolina) in Round 3. Both showed promise as rookies last year, but of the two, Dexter has the most potential to become a starter.

“I always say that the biggest jump for players is typically between the second half of the rookie season into their second year because it’s not new anymore,” Eberflus said at the owner’s meetings, before directly referencing Dexter and Pickens.

“They understand the rhythm of the training camp, the offseason training camp into season and they’ve had a chance to really go through the process of what works best for them. So we’ll see a big jump with Dexter and Pickens and we’re excited about both those guys,” the Bears coach added.

The Bears could really benefit on defense should Dexter emerge in Year 2. In 17 appearances for Chicago last season, Dexter finished with 20 total tackles (none for loss), 2.5 sacks, two passes defensed and 12 quarterback hits, according to Pro Football Reference.

Pro Football Focus has Dexter logged at 297 pass rush snaps and 134 snaps on run defense, netting 16 total tackles, 16 hurries, nine quarterback hits, a batted ball and 4.0 sacks.

Signing Another DT Is Likely Route for Matt Eberflus & Chicago Bears Defense

In addition to Pickens and Dexter, the Bears also have veteran DT Andrew Billings on the roster next season.

Billings, 29, started 17 games for Chicago last year. He didn’t have a sack, but he earned a respectable 75.2 pass rush grade from PFF, also amassing 21 hurries and two QB hits. Jones also started 17 games for Chicago, so the Bears will need a starting-level DT to replace his presence on the interior.

Adding a fourth to replace Jones in the rotation is something Eberflus is clearly thinking about, and it would make a ton of sense. One injury to the defensive tackle group as it currently stands could be devastating.

There aren’t a ton of attractive options left for Chicago at DT in free agency. Former Houston Texans D-lineman Teair Tart is one possible option. Ex-Seahawks DT Bryan Mone is another. The upcoming draft is also a possibility, but with just four picks, one of which is extremely likely going to be spent on QB Caleb Williams, Chicago’s options will be very limited there.

We’ll see what Eberflus and company do in the coming months, but signing another DT will likely be a priority.