Ten Most Important Bears Players: Andrew Billings
Jamie Sabau - USA Today Sports

Ten Most Important Bears Players: Andrew Billings

by - Senior Writer -

When you look back at the Chicago Bears' 2023 offseason and consider some of the moves they made, most of them were made to prepare for the future. DJ Moore and Montez Sweat come to mind. Moore emerged as the team's No.1 WR option, while Sweat brought a new look to a pass rush that desperately needed it.

However, there were some under-the-radar moves that the Bears not only made last season but wound up working in the Bear's favor helping put them in a position to build on that for this season. One of those moves was the addition of DT Andrew Billings (ranked No. 5 on the list), who quite possibly could be the Bears best offseason acquisition of 2023, not named Moore.

The seven-year veteran was signed to a one-year contract last season, as the Bears signed him on a flyer-type deal to see what he could do. Not only did he emerge as an every-down guy for the Bears last season, but he played well enough to earn a contract for this season and will be looked upon to take on an even more massive role in 2024.

Across 17 games last season, Billings was extremely active in the trenches as he finished the season with 27 tackles, three tackles for loss, 23 pressures, and two QB hits. He didn't come away with any sacks, but he was the driving force when it came to stopping the running game, which is something the Bears will be looking to do again in 2024. After failing to add more pass-rushing help this offseason, Billings will not only be looked upon to stop the run again this season but will also be challenged with getting after the QB a bit more to provide interior pressure.

Billings may not be one of the names you talk about when it comes to the Bears defense, but he does a lot of the dirty work in the trenches. His most significant contribution came in the run game, where the Bears went from allowing 157.3 yards per game to just 86.2 last season. That was one of the best-run defenses in the NFL, which is very important if you want to win games consistently. That alone is the main reason why the Bears brought him back on a two-year deal, as they didn't want to lose him this offseason.

While the defense has continued to improve in each of the past two seasons, Billings is still one of the more undervalued players and needs to get the love he deserves. Part of that could be the lack of sacks that he gets, and should he start getting more of those, you will start seeing more respect thrown his way.

Although sacks are what everyone likes to have on defense, they aren't the only things that make a defensive player great. Billings has always made plenty of contributions, especially when it comes to stopping the run and being a vocal leader. There are still some questions when you look at the Bears defensive line this season, but Billings isn't one of them, as he will once again be the team's starting NT this season, instantly making him a valuable asset.

He helped elevate the defense in year one in the Matt Eberflus system, and according to pro football focus, Billings had 23 defensive pressures against the run and came away with 14 stops. Not all of those resulted in tackles for a loss, but all 14 of them resulted in gains less than two yards, which makes life difficult for offenses trying to move the ball.

With Justin Jones no longer on this team and second-year pro Gervon Dexter Jr. expected to replace him, Billings's production will be crucial this season. Billings and Dexter will be the main guys tasked with holding down the interior portion of the line, but with Dexter still a young player, Billings will have more pressure to pick up the slack early on.

He has proven to be a stout run-stopper most of his career and will be counted on to stop the opposition's running game again this season. Already a top-10 defense, the Bears have their sights on becoming a top-5 defense, and that will only happen if they can continue to control the line of scrimmage and stop teams from moving the ball.

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