As the Chicago Bears roster stands right now Trevis Gipson may not even be a starting defensive end week one, but if he can build off his solid 2021 season he could be a big part of the team’s future. Robert Quinn, a Pro Bowler and 2nd-Team All-Pro a season ago, figures to be their top edge rusher, with free agent pick up Al-Quadin Muhammad (2years, $8 million) likely slated for the other starting defensive end spot.
Gipson has had plenty of reps with the ones during the offseason with Quinn and Muhamad both away, so he has been able to settle in and show the coaches what he has to offer.
If Gipson keeps flashing during training camp, then perhaps the expected Quinn trade happens sooner. The Bears may not be actively shopping Quinn, but if the right offer comes along they’ll pull the trigger. And whether that’s during training camp, preseason, or before the trade deadline, Gipson’s continued development will be key for the 2022 Bears.
He’s transitioning back to the d-line after playing outside linebacker the last two years, and so far he’s enjoying the 4-3 front.
“They’re just turning us loose,” Gipson said in a recent press conference. “Honestly, letting us play ball, play fast, play smart, with a tremendous amount of effort. So that’s something that’s going to pay off for the whole defense, the whole team, and I think we’re going to have great results.”
Gipson only played in 71 defensive snaps as a rookie in 2020, but his playing time jumped up to 489 snaps as a second year player and he took advantage of his 9 starts (in 16 games) with 39 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, 2 passes defended, 1 fumble recovery, and a team leading 5 forced fumbles. Gipson showed a knack for swatting the ball out of the quarterback’s hand when rushing the passer, and that should endear himself to head coach Matt Eberflus and his H.I.T.S. principle. After all, the T stands for taking the ball away.
“That’s not something that just comes naturally to everyone,” Bears defensive line coach Travis Smith said of Gipson’s strip sack knack. “He has good awareness that when you’re an edge rusher, that if guys get high in the pocket, he can come back inside. Or if he has the edge, then he can turn it on high where then he can affect that quarterback and also go for the ball.”
Gipson blossoming into a viable and consistent pass rusher would not only make the eventual loss of Quinn bearable, but it’ll be a plus to a defense that thrives when the front four is able to get after the quarterback. The new defensive scheme doesn’t want to blitz, as it expects the back 7 to be in coverage and rally to the ball.
“It’s going to be tremendous,” Gipson said of the move back to the line in their new scheme. “I get to come out of a three-point, (accelerate) off the ball faster and just little things like that get lost in different positions.”
Pro Football Focus had Gipson down with Chicago’s best pass rush grade last year, and among Bears with at least 400 snaps he was their second highest graded defender. With him no longer having to worry about occasionally dropping into coverage he should thrive at defensive end.