Is Danny Trevathan Aging Up?

Danny Trevathan is 31 but playing linebacker above the age of 30 in the NFL is not exactly the rarity it might seem.
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The Bears are crying out on defense for an inside linebacker who can cover in passing situations the way Roquan Smith does, or at least somewhere close to his level.

It's because Danny Trevathan has reached a point in his NFL career where there are real questions about his overall abilities.

Trevathan is now 31 and is coming off the worst season he's had in the league, in terms of Pro Football Focus' player grades but also in most stat categories overall.

PFF had him graded 76th out of 78 linebackers but that doesn't mean Trevathan is too old or incapable of rebounding. The age of 30 for linebackers isn't quite a death knell, and PFF's stats prove it.

Five of the top nine graded linebackers last year were in their 30s when the season began. Trevathan was the only one in his 30s ranked among the bottom 10.

The inability of new defensive coaches to take a look at Trevathan on the field so far due to the absence of defensive starters from voluntary workouts at Halas Hall has made an assessment difficult.

"It's great seeing it on the Zoom call and we're seeing each other a little bit and talking about different things," Bears inside linebackers coach Bill McGovern said. "But to be out on the field and actually executing a defense with what's going on, that's what I'm excited about to get to do.

"And Danny really can show you that he can make plays when he's able to bounce around on the field really well."

They'll get a closer look at how much bouncing Trevathan has left when the full defense reports for three-day minicamp next week.

What the Bears have to ascertain is how much of a contributor in pass coverage Trevathan can still be, and how much better he really is as a run defender than he showed last year.

There have never been questions about Trevathan against the run, but losing nose tackle Eddie Goldman last year left the inside linebackers exposed at times. Normally the nose is eating up blockers, often a pair of them. And Goldman did it well so Trevathan and Smith could flow to make the tackle.

Last year 35-year-old back Adrian Peterson rolled through them for 93 yards in the opener and the defense didn't look the same against the run. Too often the linebackers seemed in the wrong gap to make a stop. No doubt Goldman's absence accounted for some of the difference, but to what extent? The Bears never ranked higher than 14th against the run after Week 2, and wound up 15th, their worst finish since 2016.

Trevathan wound up on the field for 352 run snaps and 480 pass defensive snaps. It could be time to cut back on those pass coverage snaps with personnel packages using an extra defensive back more often, but the Bears will need to study it.

As the defense's unquestioned field general since 2016, he's at least owed this courtesy.

Danny Trevathan at a glance

Career: 10th season, 722 tackles, 29 for loss, 39 passes defended, seven forced fumble and 10 sacks.

2020: 113 tackles, three for loss, five passes defended, one forced fumble, one sack.

The number: 46. Although Trevathan had his second-highest sack total at 113, 46 of those were assists. The total was the highest of his career.

2021 projection: 104 tackles, 4 for loss, five passes defended, two forced fumbles, two sacks.

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