Willie Young sees ‘new hope’ in Bears, says defense must help new QB
Subscribe for unlimited digital access.
Try one month for $1!
Subscribe for unlimited digital access. Try one month for $1!
Outside linebacker Willie Young’s nickname for the Bears’ upcoming season sounds like a ‘‘Star Wars’’ title.
‘‘It’s what I’ve been calling, ‘New hope,’ ’’ Young said Thursday. ‘‘We’ve got a lot of new people, a lot of new names in different places.’’
The Bears signed quarterback Mike Glennon to be their starter in 2017, then drafted quarterback Mitch Trubisky second overall. Because neither has much experience — Glennon has thrown 11 passes since the end of the 2014 season —Young said it’s the defense’s responsibility to play well and ensure the quarterback doesn’t feel the weight of the team is on his shoulders.
‘‘I would say our most important task this year defensively is to make sure that quarterback — whoever is the quarterback, whoever is on the field — doesn’t have the pressure to score every single drive because we’re playing lights-out on defense,’’ Young said. ‘‘He can afford a mistake. He can take a chance. He can make a throw that’s really tough, in that small little window.’’
Young, an avid fisherman who celebrates sacks by pretending to reel in a whopper, sounded optimistic — and not just because he was in his element, showing off Mercury Marine engines at DuSable Harbor.
Since having arthroscopic knee surgery — he hopes to return to the field by mandatory minicamp this month — during the offseason, Young said he feels as healthy as he has in years. He thinks the Bears are headed in the proper direction, too, but their defense has to take some of the pressure off their quarterback.
‘‘Defensively, it’s going to be making sure the quarterback is able to be relaxed and poised through adversity because it’s going to happen,’’ he said. ‘‘He’s not going to complete a thousand passes without throwing an interception; we know that. If you can, then hats off to you.’’
The Bears revamped their defensive backfield by signing cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper and safety Quintin Demps — all of whom figure to start — but they’re betting on their returning edge rushers. They didn’t spend draft picks or any significant free-agent money on an outside linebacker, entrusting veterans Young, Pernell McPhee and Lamarr Houston and youngster Leonard Floyd to be their primary pass rushers.
‘‘When you take ownership in what you do and what you bring to the table and what you’re being asked to do, there’s already a pressure on you,’’ said Young, who will be 32 in September. ‘‘I can’t speak for everybody, but I feel like I play great under pressure. When adversity strikes, do I feel like I perform well? Yes, I do. I know I give it my all.’’
He did that last season. He was on the injury report in four of the last five weeks of the season because of the knee injury but never missed a game. His 7½ sacks were the second-most of his career.
‘‘The team is headed in the right direction,’’ Young said. ‘‘It’s all gonna be a matter of whether or not we can figure it all out in a timely fashion and kick some butt. That’s what it’s gonna come down to.’’
If so, it will make Glennon’s adjustment to a starting role — and eventually Trubisky’s — that much easier.
‘‘It’s going to be important to just make sure we play lights-out on defense, so he can play ball,’’ Young said.
Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley.