Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles took an unexpected approach on day one of the early negotiating window for free agency, but they bolstered their linebacker corps with two players that excelled in pass coverage in 2022. The NFL is a passing league, as all but three teams in 2022 ran more than they passed. In 2021 every team in the league passed more than 50% of the time, in 2020 only three teams ran more, and in 2019 there were just two.
According to Next Gen Stats, Tremaine Edmunds, who was inconsistent in pass coverage during his first four years in the league, was tops in the NFL among linebackers in allowing just 4.4 yards per target.
His new teammate, T.J. Edwards, also had some questions surrounding his ability to cover during the early part of his career, but he also stepped up his game in 2022 and checked in sixth at his position in allowing 5.2 yards per target.
Linebackers in Chicago’s zone heavy scheme need to play with instincts, and the game appears to have slowed down at the right time for Edmunds (24) and Edwards (26) to cash in, so their best football may be in front of them.