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Eddie Goldman the unsung hero of Chicago Bears’ defense

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People love watching sacks, TFLs, and other highlights. Eddie Goldman is the man helping to make all that happen in Chicago.

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NFL: Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

In football, life in the trenches can truly go unappreciated. For every sack, strip sack, tackle for loss, and other big plays; the big men on the defensive line are doing the dirty work. It’s always a treat when the big nasties get their crack at a big play; yet from my experience and observations, some of the biggest plays aren’t shown in the highlight film.

Sean McVay, during one of his interviews prior to the game on Sunday night, had a clip go viral when he named and discussed 11 different players on the Bears’ defense. There was one name he left out: Eddie Goldman. And really, it’s easy to overlook what some consider a lackluster position. Sometimes, its the names not mentioned as frequently, that have the biggest impact.

Eddie Goldman is a man who’s the prime example of such a suggestion. He’s not looking for all the honors and fame associated with this stellar defense of the Chicago Bears. Rather, he’s out on the gridiron doing his job: eating blocks and wrecking the offensive line. Few nose tackles in the league excel as much as Goldman in that capacity.

Fellow WCG companion Robert Zeglinski pointed out some big statistical nuggets prior to the start of the 2018 regular season.

In Goldman’s 36 career appearances over three seasons, the Bears have averaged allowing 109 rushing yards a game. In that time span, that’s been good for 12th to 13th across the NFL. In the 12 games he’s missed, the Bears have allowed an astonishing 135 rushing yards a game. That would’ve been the worst rushing defense in 2017, fourth-worst in 2016, and also the bottom of the barrel in 2015. - Zeglinski

As it stands, the Bears have the 2nd best run defense in the NFL. It comes as no surprise that Goldman’s presence has been a factor this year, particularly since this is the healthiest we have seen him to this point in his career. PFF currently has a grade of an 84 for the young nose tackle, which to their standards is a “good” rating for him.

Being the nose tackle in the Bears’ base defense is just a tough assignment in general.

Traditionally, nose tackles in any 3-4 front will line up directly over the Center, otherwise known as the “0” technique. That is usually where Goldman lines up. However, he’s also lined up as a “shade” or a “1” technique, a “2” technique, and even as a “3” technique linemen when the Bears roll out their nickel package. His versatility has been on display since his rookie season.

Simply put, he’s in a position of which demands a player to absorb double, sometimes triple teams. I like calling it “line wrecking” instead of “gap filling;” he’s not the player who’s responsible for making the play in either of the A gaps. Instead, he’s the player that keeps the inside linebackers clean, so they can make the play with their downhill speed. Or, depending on the call, he’s looking to force the play outside for Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd to pounce on.

Again, life in the trenches can be overlooked from a statistical standpoint. Here is an example of Goldman contributing to a big play, which came this last Sunday night against the Rams.

In this particular play, Fangio phoned what looks like his take on a “tight” call. Goldman appears to be at the “2,” which is head up on the guard. Meanwhile, Akiem Hicks and Roy Robertson-Harris are at the “1” and “5,” respectively. And Leonard Floyd is stacked on Khalil Mack with Mack on the line at the “7” technique. Fangio wants this run forced outside to their strong side, given how tight Goldman, RRH, and Hicks are aligned to their weak side.

When the ball is snapped, Goldman engages his man directly. Where someone could jest he got knocked off the line of scrimmage; in reality, Goldman won inside leverage and flowed towards the ball. The linemen essentially formed a wall, preventing Todd Gurley from cutting back against the grain, and allowing the linebackers to flow freely towards the ball. The end result is a huge TFL to start the second half. Goldman did his job.

Of course, in the NFL, defenders in the front seven are paid to hit the quarterback. Goldman is a powerful pass rusher, as he doesn’t rely on finesse nor speed to collapse the pocket. He will just run right over you.

In all, Goldman has recorded the following statistics:

  • 35 total tackles (24 solo)
  • 4 TFLs
  • 2 sacks
  • 1 fumble recovery
  • 1 safety

The casual fan will likely look at that line and say, “what’s the big deal?” It’s not his individual performance that people should take in, it’s his overall impact on plays. To be a great defensive lineman, as I have learned, is to be selfless. Do your job, so that others can do theirs. Believe me, this defense would not be nearly as good if Goldman wasn’t available.

General manager Ryan Pace has made it a point of emphasis to reward his players early for their attributions to the team. Eddie Goldman, Pace’s second ever draft pick, was signed to a nice extension right before the regular season began. The Bears not only have their starting nose tackle locked up for the next 4 years, I’m willing to say that Goldman is playing the best football of his career this season.

Being a lineman in football is a dirty job. Somebody’s got to do it. Fortunately for the Bears, they’ve got one of the league’s best in Goldman.