The Chicago Bears’ pass rush was nonexistent in 2022. That isn’t hyperbole, either. The Bears finished last in the NFL with just 20 sacks. Horrendous.
To compound matters, GM Ryan Poles hasn’t taken significant strides in improving the team’s edge rushers. At least, not yet. There’s a chance a veteran pass-rusher or two will be added to the roster, but as of now, DeMarcus Walker is the biggest upgrade. Rasheem Green at least has a pulse.
Perhaps Poles is betting on a breakout season from last year’s fifth-round pick, Dominique Robinson. The Miami (OH) product looked the part of a game-wrecking sack artist in the 2022 season opener, but it was crickets after that. Literally. He had 1.5 sacks against the 49ers in Week 1 and finished his rookie season with… 1.5 sacks.
But as Poles said about his scouting process for big guys, grade the flashes. Robinson’s flashes were impressive, and he’s set lofty goals for 2023.
“I have big goals for myself,” Robinson said via The Good Athlete Podcast. “I want to have a 10-sack season this year. I think I can do it, I’ve been working, I’ve been busting my butt this offseason, working out with different people, trying to learn the game. This is only my third year, technically, playing defensive end. This will be my third full season, I’ve only got a few seasons up under my belt. I know I’m athletic enough, I know I’m strong enough. Now it’s just getting out there and seeing what works.”
If Dominique Robinson emerges as a double-digit sack guy in 2023, the entire complexion of the Chicago Bears’ defense will change. He’d be the missing piece for what already looks like a group that will be vastly improved next fall.
Despite not adding an edge rusher this offseason, Ryan Poles has made a few splash signings on defense. Linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and TJ Edwards are the headliners and will revamp the second level. Defensive linemen Andrew Billings and Walker will improve the run defense, and rookie second-round pick Tyrique Stevenson will provide reinforcements in coverage.
All upgrades. All solid moves.
But that pesky pass-rusher is still missing.
Maybe it will be Dominique Robinson. Maybe his early season flashes last year were enough for the Chicago Bears to feel so good about him that the expectations for growth in his second season are beyond anything the media is projecting. We’ll see.
For now, it’s great that Robinson is motivated to become that guy for the Bears. I wouldn’t bet against him.