Allen, other additions immediately upgrade defense

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The Bears continued to overhaul their defense on Wednesday with the signing of free agent defensive end Jared Allen.

The former Minnesota Viking agreed to a four-year deal with the Bears and will immediately upgrade not only the stagnant pass rush, but he’s likely to make the players around him better as well.

When fans attempt to analyze how a team performs, there’s a tendency to go overboard with wanting to upgrade everything. But, often it takes just a few moves to upgrade the entire unit.

The Bears have parted ways with defensive linemen Julius Peppers, Henry Melton, and Corey Wootton. They’ve brought in Allen, Lamarr Houston, Willie Young and Israel Idonije, they’ll get back Nate Collins from injury and have retained Jeremiah Ratliff.

Their defensive line is better today than it was at the end of last season.

On the second level, the team moved Shea McClellin from end to linebacker to compete with Jon Bostic at strong-side linebacker. No one knows if McClellin can play there, but he’s better suited at linebacker than end, and competition always brings out the best in players. At middle linebacker, the team gets D.J. Williams back from injury and Lance Briggs still has a lot left in him.

They need to add some depth and get younger, but their linebackers are better today than they were at the end of last season.

As for the secondary, this is where the concern still remains. The team brought in safeties Ryan Mundy and M.D. Jennings and parted ways with Major Wright. They also re-signed cornerbacks Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman as well as Kelvin Hayden, who will be coming back from injury.

There remains work to be done, but the Bears are better in the secondary today than they were at the end of last season.

Are the Bears a Top-15 defense? Not likely. But there’s no reason to believe that the additions the Bears have made this offseason — not to mention the return of several players from injuries — can’t make the Bears an average defense at the very least.

And just how far could the Bears have gone in the playoffs last year if they had even a respectable defense to pair with their high-powered offense? There’s no telling.

Let’s see where the Bears are after May’s draft, but I have a feeling they’ll be contenders come September.

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