Chicago Bears edge rusher Trevis Gipson has more pressure on him in 2022 than the average third-year pro who began his career as a fifth-round pick. He’s developed as the team hoped he would over his first two seasons, including a career-best seven sacks in 2021. But it’s still early in his career trajectory, which is why his role as one of the Bears’ key pass-rushers this season wasn’t a predictable outcome when he was drafted.
Remember, when they selected Gipson, the Bears had Khalil Mack on the roster. Robert Quinn was also fresh off of signing a massive five-year, $70 million contract. Gipson, meanwhile, was viewed as a developmental pass-rusher with upside; perhaps he’d evolve into a quality backup who’d get some reps on passing downs.
But here we are, just three seasons later. Mack is a Los Angeles Charger, and Quinn hasn’t shown up for any of Chicago’s offseason program. It’s not unusual for veterans to train on their own, but in the first offseason with a new coaching staff and young players who need teaching, Quinn’s presence would’ve been nice.
That leaves Gipson, the former Tulsa standout who recorded 12 sacks over his final two collegiate seasons, as the edge rusher who’s the most prepared to get off to a fast start in 2022. The Bears did sign Muhammad Al-Quadin in free agency, but like Quinn, he’s missed most of the voluntary portions of the offseason.
The 2022 season will offer Gipson more than just a significant role. The defense coach Matt Eberflus is bringing to Chicago will play to his strengths.
“They’re just turning us loose,” Gipson said from minicamp this week. “Honestly, letting us play ball, play fast, play smart, with a tremendous amount of effort. So that’s something that’s going to pay off for the whole defense, the whole team, and I think we’re going to have great results.
“I think overall, especially in this defense … it’s going to be tremendous. I get to come out of a three-point, (accelerate) off the ball faster, and just little things like that get lost in different positions.”
Play speed has been a significant talking point for Eberflus all offseason. He wants his defense to play fast and with intensity. Gipson’s alignment in 2022 will allow him to do that. He’ll pin his ears back and do what he does best: chase down the quarterback.
The 2021 season was a mere appetizer for what Gipson is capable of becoming. Double-digit sacks in 2022 are realistic. He could end the year with the most sacks on the Chicago Bears.
That’d be quite an accomplishment for a player who was an afterthought in the 2020 NFL Draft. Now, Trevis Gipson is one of a handful of critical defensive starters this season.
Bryan is the founder and managing editor of Bears Talk. His previous stops include Bears coverage for NBC Sports Chicago and USA Today.