Bears DC Eric Washington believes LBs and DBs among the best in NFL

There are high expectations surrounding the Chicago Bears heading into the 2024 season, and rightfully so.

While there’s plenty of excitement surrounding this offense, especially with the addition of rookie quarterback Caleb Williams, the defense has been flying under the radar.

Chicago’s defense was among the worst in the NFL in the first half of the 2023 season, but they made huge strides and were a top-10 unit in the final leg of the season. The addition of Montez Sweat at the trade deadline was a huge reason why.

Now, the Bears are returning their young core — including re-signing All-Pro cornerback Jaylon Johnson to a long-term deal — and expectations are high for this defense.

New defensive coordinator Eric Washington believes the pass rusher is better this year compared to the previous year. Although, it still needs some work. But Washington had high praise for Chicago’s linebackers and defensive backs, which he believes are among the best in the NFL.

“Our back seven, I think they’re as good a group as there is in the NFL,” Washington said. “I’m biased, but having a chance to be on the football field and watch them and watch the details, there’s a lot to be excited about.”

The Bears overhauled their linebacker group last offseason with the additions of T.J. Edwards and Tremaine Edmunds, and they were a big part of the defense’s success in 2023. Now, they’re back, along with Jack Sanborn, and looking to continue their dominance.

Chicago’s secondary is a young, ascending unit that made huge strides last season after struggling out of the gate. Johnson is the veteran anchor in that group, but there’s plenty of young defensive backs in place with Kyler Gordon, Jaquan Brisker, Tyrique Stevenson and Terell Smith. They also added All-Pro veteran safety Kevin Byard in free agency.

With the improvements made — and the continued development of young talent — the ceiling is high for this Bears defense in 2024.

Story originally appeared on Bears Wire