Billings embodies Bears mentality with effort, selflessness
Story by Gabby Hajduk
The Bears on Thursday signed veteran defensive tackle Andrew Billings to a two-year contract extension through the 2025 season. Through his hard work, veteran leadership and playmaking ability, coaches and players alike consider Andrew Billings an "unsung hero" of the Bears defense.
On the first defensive play of the Bears' season-opener against Green Bay, nose tackle Andrew Billings powered his way into the backfield and pushed Packers center Josh Myers into running back Aaron Jones, allowing defensive end DeMarcus Walker to record the tackle-for-loss.
That play also marked the first of Billings' tenure with the Bears, setting the tone for an impressive start to his seventh NFL season.
"He gets out there and the first play he's in the backfield, he [helps] with a tackle for loss," Bears manager of football administration and pro scout James Cosh told ChicagoBears.com. "You're like, 'man off the bat, he's making an impact.' With a lot of guys you have to wait, but he does it right away."
With eight minutes left in the game, the Packers handed the ball off to running back AJ Dillon. Billings quickly shed his block and went to chase Dillon down the sideline, jumping over Packers receiver Dontayvion Wicks to do so.
"He showed you who he is," Cosh said. "He's making a hustle play, lays it all on the line for the team. That was early in the season, but right then I knew who he was."
Those two plays encompass Billings' role in Chicago – one where success isn't defined by concrete numbers like sacks, tackles-for-loss or quarterback pressures, but rather the intangibles like hustle and mentorship. It's how many times he moves the quarterback off a spot, occupies a block or turns the ball back toward another defender.
"He's disruptive, he's consistent," Cosh said, "and just kind of does a lot of the things — unsung hero things — that people don't probably see on the stat sheet all the time."
Those moments in the trenches that create opportunities for his teammates are what make Billings so valuable to the Bears and why the team signed him to a two-year contract extension on Thursday.
"We're extremely excited to be able to keep Andrew in Chicago," general manager Ryan Poles said. "The professionalism, dependability and toughness he brings exhibit the type of player we want in our organization."
Billings is excited to stay in Chicago "one, because they appreciate me and two, because I see a future here - not only for myself but also for the team."
"It feels good that somebody appreciates you and that you're doing a good enough job that they want you around a little longer," Billings told ChicagoBears.com Thursday. "That always feels good."