Bears 2024 Training Camp Preview: Giving Montez Sweat Some Help (2024)

It happened again on Monday, as it has sporadically throughout spring and summer.

Former Bears defensive end Yannick Ngakoue posted another workout video to prove his ankle has healed following the Week 14 broken ankle he suffered last season.

To be sure, Ngakoue did not produce the desired payback the Bears had hoped when they signed him for one year and $10.5 million. He had four sacks and Pro Football Focus said if it hadn't have been for Pat Jones II with the Vikings, Ngakoue would have been the lowest graded edge rusher in the NFL last year. He was 111th out of 112, they said.

He’s back🦍…#God pic.twitter.com/V3qkk2sBsM

— Yannick Ngakoue (@YannickNgakoue) July 8, 2024

However, Ngakoue did get 34 pressures in his 13 games, and while teams generally don't pay $10.5 million hoping for only pressures, he did something else with those pressures to help their rush. And it's something the Bears need to consider when they ponder what to do at this position over the next few weeks.

Much was made about the "Sweat Effect," when Montez Sweat helped other defensive linemen and they were able as a group to get more heat to force bad throws for interceptions.

Sweat himself benefited from the "Ngakoue Effect," until there was no Ngakoue due to the injury.

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Midway Menace 👿 pic.twitter.com/jIsSrd4Nt4

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Sweat had a 16.4% rate of pressure on pass rushes when Ngakoue was playing in Games 9-13. In the final three games, the Bears won twice and Sweat had only a 9.7% pressure rate on pass rushes. His total pressure rate was 13.2% for the year.

Obviously, the numbers say when Ngakoue played it kept teams from focusing entirely on stopping Sweat with every available blocker. Without Ngakoue, it meant more blockers focusing all the time on Sweat.

So the Bears need to bring back Sweat?

#Bears Austin Booker talking about how he got connected with Maxx Crosby, and what he hopes to learn from him. pic.twitter.com/xttPvycdb6

— ImBearingDown (@ImBearingDown) May 11, 2024

They did lose both Ngakoue and Rasheem Green, who had a very minor amount of pressure on 6.2% of his rushes. DeMarcus Walker actually led the Bears in total pressures (47) mainly because Sweat only played half a season in Chicago.

The assistance with edge pressure for Sweat is going to need to come from somewhere when Walker isn't in the pass rush. They need the rotational help.

Is it rookie Austin Booker, with his long legs and knack for slipping past tackles?

"Length is a great advantage for every player on the field, especially a player on the edge," defensive coordinator Eric Washington said. "What it allows you to do is to advance and put that tackle under duress right now.

"He can gain ground, he can really take the grass and really force the protection mechanics against the person he's working against. The quicker you can get there, the quicker you can initiate the play, initiate the violence, the better."

#Bears

Montez Sweat.

Loaded front. Use alignments/stunts to create pass rush matchups. pic.twitter.com/zxeEIjWvTJ

— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) November 28, 2023

Can a rookie do it is the question. They'll have time to consider it now at camp.

It's Washington's specialty to make defensive linemen better, after he served his position coaching period as a line coach for Buffalo and Carolina.

"We'd like to be, we're going to be a team that generates pressure with our front four," Washington said. "We're going to build the best pass rush in football. That happens to be an area, fortunately an area, that I've had tremendous success with and we have the personnel to get that done."

Does he have the personnel?

They'll find out in these first few weeks of camp. In May, Pro Football Focus called the Bears defensive line the weakest in football.

If they don't like what they see, maybe a call to Ngakoue, or possibly any of several other unsigned defensive ends in the marketplace.

It's a list right now that includes Emmanuel Ogbah, Carl Lawson, Shaq Lawson and Jerry Hughes.

And it also includes Ngakoue.

Bears Defensive End Outlook

Starters: No. 98 Montez Sweat, No. 95 DeMarcus Walker

Backups: No. 94 Austin Booker, No. 90 Dominique Robinson, No. 55 Jacob Martin

Roster Hopefuls: No. 52 Khalid Kareem, No. 92 Daniel Hardy

Strengths: Stopping the run, particularly the two starters. Sweat and Walker are stout and Sweat's combination of power and speed lets him finish pass rushes. Walker has shown the rush ability but hasn't finished. The problem with Booker and Robinson, and even Martin to an extent, is they're less about stopping the run than rushing the passer. Martin is a 242-pound edge who isn't really a fit for this type of scheme. There is high energy with their youth, and Booker, at 6-foot-6, provides the kind of length that can lead to passes being swatted down.

Weaknesses: Experience and quality depth are badly lacking. Versatility is an issue with the backups.

How many sacks will Austin Booker have in his rookie season? pic.twitter.com/PLbJwmsUvt

— ChBearsUpdates (@chbearsupdates) July 6, 2024

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven

Bears 2024 Training Camp Preview: Giving Montez Sweat Some Help (2024)
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