In 2020, Chicago Bears fans learned exactly what life is like without Eddie Goldman. The imposing nose tackle has been one of the more underrated players in the NFL throughout his career.
Any 3-4 nose tackle can get lost in the shuffle amongst fans, as the primary responsibility of that position is to anchor the defensive line and eat blocks. There is nothing glorious about the position, and only a few players get recognition for it. Nose tackles do all of the dirty work so everyone else can rack up the stats, and Eddie Goldman is a perfect example of this.
In 2018 and 2019, the Bears ranked first and ninth, respectively, in rushing yardage allowed. In 2020, that ranking fell to 18th overall. There were a few different variables involved in that decline. First, Chuck Pagano took over. Pagano looked like he was keeping the train rolling for a majority of the 2019 season, but the defense started to tail off down the stretch as Roquan Smith was inactive the last four games. Even though Chuck Pagano wasn't the coordinator Vic Fangio was, not all of the 2020 run game deficiencies fall on Pagano. His ability, or lack thereof, to scheme for pass rushers and defensive backs was what had Bears fans calling for his head.
In my opinion, Eddie Goldman opting out is the biggest reason the Chicago Bears defense took a dip in 2020. Fans knew something was wrong when Adrian Peterson gutted the Bears defense in Week 1 like he was still on the Vikings. Eddie Goldman's ability to clog the interior and keep linebackers clean has a rippling effect on the Bears defense as a whole. Clogging the interior minimizes cutbacks and forces plays to string outside to players such as Akiem Hicks and Khalil Mack.
Everyone remembers how crucial Ted Washington and Keith Traylor were for the Bears defense in the 2000s because, like Eddie Goldman, they kept the linebackers clean. There is nothing more dangerous to an offense than an unblocked linebacker roaming around looking to crack back on someone. Roquan Smith will be a major beneficiary of Goldman's return.
Additionally, the Bears getting back to being an elite rushing defense will cause a rippling effect in the passing game. Minimizing yardage on first and second downs causes longer third downs. Longer third downs allow more time for a pass rush. More sacks and PBU's lead to more three and outs, and more three and outs lead to more rest time for the defense.
In 2019, Eddie Goldman put together his worst statistical season as a full-time starter, but he was still named as an alternate to the Pro Bowl. This tells me that fans and his peers have finally caught onto how well he plays, but it is still not at the level of recognition he deserves. When Goldman returns to the Bears, it will improve all aspects of the team's defense and push them back to the top of the NFL defensive ranks.
After this happens, the Associated Press won't be able to ignore the facts and Goldman will have to be in consideration for an All-Pro bid. If he can find a way to break five sacks and 50 tackles, I think we'll see Eddie Goldman finally get the respect he deserves.