Al-Quadin Muhammad isn’t a household name, but he is critical to the Chicago Bears’ defensive puzzle. Muhammad signed a two-year, $8 million contract this offseason and will be part of a collection of edge rushers charged with replacing Khalil Mack. His absence from the Bears’ offseason program has raised some eyebrows, but perhaps that’s an overreaction.
Muhammad is one of the few players on the roster who’s familiar with coach Matt Eberflus, the defensive system, and the expectations that come along with the program. He shined under Eberflus during his first season as a starter with the Indianapolis Colts in 2021, finishing with a career-high six sacks. It’s fair to assume Eberflus recommended Muhammad to Poles in free agency, and it makes sense. Adding quality players who know the system helps ease the transition from the old to the new.
Perhaps, it’s that experience that’s why Muhammad hasn’t come to work yet. He already had his Eberflus learning curve, and it’s unlikely his missed time will cause him to fall behind.
“I had to figure out the message that (Eberflus) was giving,” Muhammad said in March. “And I had to figure out how to do it on a consistent basis. I had to figure out how to do it every day. I had to change my perspective, change my mindset, and I had to really just buy in.”
Once Muhammad bought in, the rest took care of itself. He learned the scheme, and as he noted in March, he scripts his offseason training around it.
“It wasn’t hard to buy in because the way the scheme is set up. If you’re not playing at a fast pace, you’re not running to the ball, punching at the ball, stripping at the ball, just 11 guys to the ball, you’re not going to play. I bought into that immediately, and I train that way during the offseason. Getting to the ball is always on my mind.”