The Chicago Bears have a history of having great linebackers.
While last season was extremely disappointing with the team going just 3-13, there were some bright spots including linebacker Jerrell Freeman.
Freeman signed as a free agent from the Indianapolis Colts on March 12th, 2016. The Bears were looking to add some talent considering the position has been mediocre since the departures of Briggs and Urlacher. It’s safe to say, the Freeman signing has turned out to be a good one.
Pro Football Focus came out with a list of the best linebackers in 2016. Freeman was ranked number one overall. He was ahead of Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers and Bobby Wagner of the Seattle Seahawks.
The best linebackers in the NFL in 2016. pic.twitter.com/Fkh1fbSpcE
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) July 16, 2017
Last season in 12 games, Freeman recorded 110 total tackles. He was solid in both the run and pass game. He was targeted 59 times and allowed 45 catches for 342 yards. The key statistic here is that Freeman allowed ZERO touchdowns. That’s impressive considering he his assigned the difficult task of covering Pro Bowl caliber running backs and tight ends.
His numbers would have been significantly higher if Freeman didn’t miss four games after testing positive for PEDs in November. Freeman did apologize in a statement he posted on Twitter.
— Jerrell Freeman (@JerrellFreeman) November 21, 2016
Hopefully, Freeman has learned his lesson because he will be essential to the success of the Bears defense early in the season with the uncertainty of Danny Trevathan‘s health. Trevathan suffered a ruptured right patellar tendon in week 12. It’s a tough injury to come back from and Trevathan will most likely start the season on the reserve/PUP list.
In one season, Freeman proved just how important he is to the Bears defense. He will need to be at his best early on. The Bears first four weeks of the season are tough. They will play the Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Green Bay Packers. Three out of four teams made the playoffs in 2016. The Buccaneers are also a team on the rise.
Things are not going to be easy in 2017. The hope is that Freeman can replicate the success he had in 2016, which made him one of, if not the best linebacker in all of the NFL.