Reports have surfaced that the Washington Redskins will let Brian Orakpo hit the open market in free agency. Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery has made it clear that the primary focus of this offseason will be rebuilding the defense. Starting with a Pro Bowl edge player like Orakpo would be the perfect place to start through free agency. Some believe that Orakpo is only suited to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, but I disagree. Orakpo has the skills and size to play defensive end in a 4-3 defense, but would also give the Bears flexibility to utilize different fronts.
The flexibility to use multiple fronts is exactly what this Bears defense needs. It was painfully obvious last season that defensive coordinator Mel Tucker likes to blitz, and blitz a lot. Part of the reason Chicago was so unsuccessful on defense was that Tucker’s blitzing style requires big, fast bodies on defense. Every defense needs players like that, but a blitz-heavy scheme demands that. The personnel the Bears had on defense in 2013 were all meant to fit Lovie Smith’s Tampa-2 defense, a defense that does not rely heavily on blitzing, but instead relies upon pressure from the front four. The injuries to the defensive line led to a disastrous mix: a weak defensive line and players blitzing with little experience doing so.
Inking Orakpo would be the “splash” signing some Bears fans suggest the team must make to turn this defense around in 2014. There is no doubt that Orakpo’s physicality and leadership would be welcomed in Chicago. Now it is up to Emery to go out and sign Orakpo on March 11.