With coordinator Vic Fangio and a core group of veterans returning, the Bears are hoping that the continuity they possess on defense will enable the unit to flourish in 2018.
"I think it's huge," cornerback Prince Amukamara said Saturday at training camp. "You look at all the great defenses the last couple of years—the 49ers, Seattle, Denver—you see a lot of those core pieces stick together and that's what we're trying to do here."
Last season the Bears ranked ninth in the NFL in points allowed and 10th in yards while recording 42 sacks, their second highest total in the past 20 years. With so many key starters returning at all three levels of the defense, the expectations are even higher in 2018.
"We need to go back out there and fix the little things that we did wrong last year and hopefully make it into the top five," said defensive end Akiem Hicks. "That was my goal going into OTAs and it's still my goal now."
It seems to be a realistic goal under Fangio, who has transformed a unit that ranked 30th in the NFL in total yards in each of the two years before he arrived in 2015.
"I feel like Vic is licking his chops," Amukamara said. "He is picking up where he left off from OTAs and from last year. There hasn't been a lot of install. We're just picking up from where we left off. We don't have to install a lot because we don't have a new system, because we do have the same group of guys."