Skip to main content

Bears Bank on Isaiah Irving to Build on His Momentum

Without a dependable third outside pass rusher, the Bears are hoping their three-year project Isaiah Irving is on the verge of becoming a potential fill-in for Robert Quinn and Khalil Mack

Isaiah Irving's Bears career has been one of starts and stops.

Just when he seems to be building momentum, Irving lost playing time due to injuries and then his development stopped.

It's a year when the Bears could really use a fourth-year outside linebacker from San Jose State who can step up on the depth chart to provide support in the third position behind Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn. If only he can avoid the problems of the past.

Irving has played the role of developmental outside linebacker project behind Khalil Mack, Leonard Floyd and Aaron Lynch but even as an undrafted free agent he was able to beat out sixth-round 2018 draft pick Kylie Fitts for a roster spot.

Irving first began generating momentum as a rookie, when the Bears were having injury troubles at outside pass rusher with John Fox still as their coach. They began getting Irving on the field after he came off the practice squad in Week 6. He did little at first, but then got onto the field with the defense and recorded five total tackles in games against Detroit and Philadelphia and things were looking up.

Then he suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice.

So Irving went back and rehabbed the injury, contributed intermittently over 2018 but had just one tackle and two quarterback hits over the final seven weeks as his season largely revolved around special teams.

Last year it finally seemed Irving was making a move, and then in the game with the Chargers he suffered a quad injury. It shelved him three weeks and he still hadn't healed fully by the fourth week, bogging down his progress.

Irving never really seemed to get back into a flow afterward and had only a tackle and two quarterback hits over the final seven games of the season. One tackle and a quarterback hit came in the season-ending game at Minnesota.

When Irving had been a rookie, his potential seemed great enough to give the Bears hope he might move up into a third outside linebacker spot.

In 2018 he had his only career sack against Buffalo and even had former Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio commenting that he was "...ready to go in there and uphold his duty to the defense and make some good plays for us."

Scroll to Continue

Read More

Fangio always did have a flare for the dramatic.

Unfortunately, Irving hasn't. He still sits as a project and the Bears could really use a player with experience who can step into the third outside pass rusher role because rookie Trevis Gipson will be making quite a large conversion. He's coming from a college defensive end spot with his hand in the dirt to playing standup linebacker in the NFL.

Irving has never been on the field for more than 12% of the defensive snaps in a season and now is when the Bears need him to show he's capable of far more.

Isaiah Irving at a Glance

San Jose State OLB

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 254

Key Numbers: Irving has played in 33 NFL games and has tackles in just 14 of them.

2020 Projection: 2 sacks, 16 games played, no starts.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven