Chicago Bears add much-needed playoff experience to the defense

The Bears put a premium on experience in free agency, signing three defensive players who have had plenty of playoff success during their short careers.

The Chicago Bears last week made significant enhancements to the defensive front seven. GM Ryan Pace added the top two inside linebackers on the open market - Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman - as well as one of the top interior run defenders in Akiem Hicks. 

Trevathan is 25 years old, Hicks 26 and Freeman 29, and all three have played just four seasons in the NFL. In essence, each player is entering the prime of his professional career. 

The impact of this trio on the field will be immediate. Trevathan and Freeman are equally adept at stopping the run as they are in coverage, while Hicks (6-5, 326) is a space eating defensive end who will make life miserable for opposing running backs. 

Yet beyond their prowess on the field, each player brings something in short supply among Chicago's current players: playoff experience. 

Between Trevathan, Freeman and Hicks, the Bears add three defenders with 17 games of playoff experience, including four AFC Championship games and two Super Bowls. When you throw in new offensive tackle Bobby Massie, who has played in three playoff games, that number jumps to 20 games of postseason experience. 

The success these three have had in the postseason cannot be overstated for a franchise that has not made the playoffs since 2010. These are players who know how to win, who know what it takes to get to the top of the mountain. They know what a successful locker room looks like and what it takes to get over the hump. They know what it takes - mentally, physically and schematically - to win big game in the playoffs. 

Only a handful of players on Chicago's current roster have significant postseason experience, while some of their best players - including Kyle Long and Alshon Jeffery - have no idea what it feels like to play in a one-and-done scenario. 

Pace, as well as head coach John Fox, obviously put a premium on finding young players who have had previous success in the NFL. These aren't talented player from losing organizations. They're top-tier players from winning franchises. 

That experience will impact the team on the field and in the locker room. It should help the club get over the hump in tight games, as well as prepare them for contests late in the season when their playoff hopes are on the line. 

That's an improvement to this team that goes beyond the stat sheet. If Chicago's new acquisitions can impart their previous success to the rest of the team, the Bears could make a serious push for the postseason this season. 


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