This Veteran Must Step Up for Chicago Bears After Key Injury on Defense

Chicago Bears, Demarcus Walker

The Chicago Bears’ defense has been stellar in the past weeks, playing at a top-five level. It’s been an unprecedented and rapid turnaround for Matt Eberflus’ unit, which has aided the team in winning three of their last four games. However, as the 5-8 Bears are back in the thick of the playoff hunt, they’ve been hit with a significant injury.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported Tuesday that defensive end Yannick Ngakoue suffered a broken ankle in the Bears’ 28-13 victory over the Detroit Lions in Week 14. He is out for the remainder of the season. It’s a hard blow to the pass rush, which has improved since the addition of star defensive end Montez Sweat.

Ngakoue signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Bears late last offseason. In 13 games with Chicago, he recorded a team-high four sacks, six tackles for loss, seven quarterback hits, 26 hurries, and 34 total pressures.


The 28-year-old has played much better alongside Montez Sweat in the last four games, recording two sacks, two tackles for loss, and three quarterback hits in that time.

With the loss of Ngakoue, Eberflus and the Bears will need their veteran depth at edge rusher to step up for a potential playoff push. The name that comes to mind is Demarcus Walker.


It’s Demarcus Walker’s Time to Step Up

After an impressive  2022 season with seven sacks, 10 tackles for loss, and 16 quarterback hits, general manager Ryan Poles inked Demarcus Walker to a three-year, $21 million contract. So far, in 2023, Walker has recorded 1.5 sacks, five tackles for loss, and nine quarterback hits. While his numbers haven’t been up to par with last season, he still has ample opportunities to make a difference this season.

As proven by both Ngakoue’s increased production and the defense’s overall improvement, Sweat is a true difference-maker. Walker will experience the Sweat effect as he returns to the starting lineup. With opposing offensive lines having to worry about the superstar on the other side, it’ll give Walker more favorable matchups and better chances at making plays.

Regarding matchups, the Bears won’t be facing any star-studded offensive lines. The injury-riddled Cleveland Browns will roll with Geron Christian and James Hudson III, who have struggled mightily this season, as their starting offensive tackles. Chicago’s next opponents, the Arizona Cardinals, are starting D.J. Humphries and Paris Johnson Jr., who’ve garnered 57.1 and 55.4 overall PFF grades, respectively. Walker and Sweat’s toughest task comes against the Atlanta Falcons, as they match up against Jake Matthews and Kaleb McGary. They close the season against Rasheed Walker and Zach Tom of the Green Bay Packers.

The matchups are ideal for the Bears’ defensive front to dominate. Execution from players, not just Walker, and coaching will be paramount.


When asked how the Bears will compensate for the loss of Ngakoue, Matt Eberflus jokingly commented, “Blitz every snap.”

Despite the head coach’s joking tone, it isn’t far-fetched to believe they’ll bring more blitzes. The Bears have 11 sacks in the past four games. Seeing how Eberflus gets creative in aligning Walker alongside Sweat, Gervon Dexter Sr., and Andrew Billings will be interesting.

Demarcus Walker has been a vocal leader in the locker room and a great depth piece in an ascending Chicago Bears defense. Now, it’s time for him to make a difference and help the team dream of the playoffs.

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