Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune evaluates the situation at outside linebacker.
“[Willie] Young got credit for what looked like a coverage sack [last Sunday] from my vantage point but he still had to finish the play and he’s been playing solid of late and has a sack in four consecutive games for the first time in his career. Expanded playing time opportunity allowed Lamarr Houston to factor in with a team-high nine tackles, according to press box statistics. Houston was making plays in the run game although some were downfield. Both were coming off major injuries from last season. Both are playing better in the second half of the season. Hard to say what the future holds at outside linebacker for the Bears this offseason but I know they can’t afford to get rid of any players until they’ve replaced them. Maybe Young is playing himself into another season here. His contract is flat. He will earn the same $2.45 million in 2016 as he is this season with a $50,000 workout bonus. That’s club friendly when you talk about a guy with 15 ½ sacks now over the last two seasons.”
I’d say both of these men have a future with the Bears. I’d also say that neither is the playmaker the Bears need at the position. As Biggs points out, most of the sacks Young and Houston have collected have been either coverage sacks or sacks that have come when the offense was in the position at the end of the game where they had to pass. Pass rushers can pin their ears back and go after the quarterback without worrying about the run in the latter situation.
That doesn’t mean that these men aren’t valuable. They are. But the Bears still need help at the position opposite Pernell McPhee if they want to put the kind of pressure on quarterbacks that will be needed to force errors rather than take advantage of good play on the back end.