Bears 2022 EDGE review: Veterans take big step back

The Chicago Bears wrapped the 2022 season with a 3-14 record, which culminated in a 10-game losing streak. But there’s still reasons to be optimistic about the future, including a boatload of salary cap space, the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft and the emergence of quarterback Justin Fields.

Here at Bears Wire, we’re going position by position through the 2022 Bears and grading every player. With the offense wrapped up, it’s time to shift to the defense, beginning with the defensive ends who couldn’t get home to the quarterback all season long.

Trevis Gipson: C-

Chicago Bears linebacker Trevis Gipson (99) sacks Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

Season stats: 31 total tackles (4 for loss), 3.0 sacks, 3 passes defensed

Trevis Gipson was a popular candidate to breakout in his third season, in part due to the departure of Khalil Mack, but also because of his production in 2021 where he had seven sacks and five forced fumbles. Instead, he crashed back down to earth and was nothing more than average defensive end. Outside of his game against the Green Bay Packers in Week 2, Gipson’s production dipped considerably, but it wasn’t all his fault. For one, Gipson played under 50% of the team’s snaps in all but one game prior to the trade of Robert Quinn. When he was on the field, the former Tulsa standout faced numerous double teams as the team’s only legitimate pass-rushing threat.

Gipson showed he isn’t a dominant pass rusher and can’t simply just beat everyone to the quarterback. But with another star player on the line, he can be the player who takes advantage of one-on-one matchups. His production in 2023 will depend heavily on who the Bears can acquire in free agency and the draft.

Al-Quadin Muhammad: D

Green Bay Packers guard Zach Tom (50) blocks Chicago Bears defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad (55) quarter of their game Sunday, December 4, 2022 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill. The Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears 28-19. Tom was filling in for offensive tackle David Bakhtiari, who had his appendix removed earlier in the week.
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Season stats: 29 total tackles (1 for loss), 1.0 sacks, 1 forced fumble

When the Bears signed Al-Quadin Muhammad, there was no expectation that he would replace the production of Mack after he was dealt to the Los Angeles Chargers. But the bar was raised just a little higher than just one sack. Muhammad was arguably the most disappointing player on the Bears this year. He was virtually invisible all season long as a pass rusher and his run defense only added so much.

Muhammad had a career year in 2021 under Matt Eberflus when both were with the Indianapolis Colts. He was supposed to be a player that not only brought production, but brought leadership to the Bears as well when he signed his two-year deal. His presence in the locker room can be debated but his production is pretty cut and dry. This was a bad season for Muhammad and he may not be back for another.

Dominique Robinson: C

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – JANUARY 01: Dominique Robinson #91 of the Chicago Bears sacks Jared Goff #16 of the Detroit Lions during the third quarter at Ford Field on January 01, 2023 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

Season stats: 30 total tackles (2 for loss), 1.5 sacks, 2 passes defensed

The Bears selected Dominique Robinson in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft and he made an impact immediately. In the Bears’ Week 1 victory over the San Francisco 49ers, Robinson notched 1.5 sacks with a tackle for loss and made key stops all day long. It looked like general manager Ryan Poles had found a diamond in the rough who could surprise as a rookie.

Unfortunately, that didn’t come to fruition as the season continued on. Robinson had a quiet rookie campaign the rest of the way, with multiple games of not registering a statistic despite playing plenty of snaps. But Robinson was always going to be a project the moment he was picked. He’s a converted wide receiver and is still learning how to play the position. This season wasn’t unexpected and he has the opportunity to take a step with a full offseason in 2023.

Story originally appeared on Bears Wire