Why The Jeremiah Attaochu Release Is Problematic For Bears Defense

When looking at the Chicago Bears defense, the list of concerns isn’t too extensive. Sure, it’s not as talented as it was four years ago but one can at least say most of the position groups have stability. The arrivals of Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker via the draft reinforced the secondary. Veterans Justin Jones and Mike Pennel also help beef up the defensive line. The biggest lingering issue is now at linebacker. A problem that became even more pronounced when the team cut Jeremiah Attaochu.

It isn’t hard to understand the logic. Attaochu has spent his career as a 3-4 outside linebacker. So transitioning to a 4-3 would’ve been difficult for him. Plus, by cutting him, they added another $2.45 million in cap space. Still, it leaves their strongside linebacker spot in even greater uncertainty. Roquan Smith and Nicholas Morrow are starters at the other two spots. Nobody else on the roster stands out as an obvious replacement.

Jeremiah Attaochu exit leaves the Bears with a tough decision.

Either they hold a wide open competition to see who can win the job or go hunting for a possible replacement. The former option doesn’t seem ideal. As of right now, their list of choices isn’t exactly proven. Veteran Matthew Adams has experience in Matt Eberflus’ defense from Indianapolis but is only 6’0 and spent most of his career as a special teams guy. Noah Dawkins is a career backup who’s never started a game. Joe Thomas has plenty of experience but also has size concerns at 6’1. That only leaves undrafted rookies Christian Albright and Jack Sanborn as possibilities.

Typical strongside linebackers are used as run defenders and extra pass rushers. That is why size is crucial for it. It is common to see them be around 6’3. That is why Jeremiah Attaochu was the obvious choice for the position before he was cut. If the Bears want to look for outside help, there are one or two options to consider. Former Vikings Pro Bowler Anthony Barr is still available. He’d be a perfect fit for that spot, as he played it for years in Minnesota.

Another option is Jaylon Smith. Eberflus worked with him briefly in Dallas. A former Pro Bowler himself, he was primarily a middle linebacker but also had experience on the outside as well. Nobody knows why he fell apart so fast after 2020, but he just turned 27. Those two would make sense if the Bears wanted to take a one-year flier.

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