Gipson focused on reaching 'ceiling' for Bears, not Quinn's absence originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
LAKE FOREST – With Khalil Mack gone, the Bears already needed a lot out of Trevis Gipson. That spotlight could be even brighter with Robert Quinn absent from minicamp and his future with the team uncertain.
Gipson, 25, is coming off a season in which he burst onto the scene, notching seven sacks, five forced fumbles, and two passes defensed in 16 games, showing he has all the skills to be a franchise edge rusher. Gipson had an 87.0 pass-rush grade that ranked 10th among qualified edge rushers, right behind Chandler Jones, per Pro Football Focus. His 11.9 pass-rush productivity in true pass sets ranked 16th, and his 19.3 percent win rate, the number of times he beat his man in two seconds or less, ranked 52nd.
All of that bodes well for a player expected to be the Bears' second-best pass rusher opposite Quinn. However, if Quinn's time in Chicago is over, Gipson might wind up being the guy this season.
The former fifth-round pick has spoken to Quinn but isn't worried about his mentor's absence. Instead, his focus is on the daily grind to excel in a defense he believes will allow him to play fast and free.
"You know, I have my own goals and aspirations but definitely to do better than I did last year," Gipson said Wednesday after Day 2 of Bears minicamp at Halas Hall. "I think every athlete in this building is looking to take that next step forward and better their game just to see what their ceiling is like. I think I'm going to keep reaching for the ceiling, and when I do feel like I'm there, I'm going to reach through it."
With nine starts and 23 career games under his belt, Gipson qualifies as a veteran leader on a young, rebuilding Bears team. That's a challenge Gipson is taking head-on.
"We need leadership," Gipson said. "We already have leadership, but more can't hurt. And you know, just me being vocal, me helping lead the guys in our room, that will help my whole career in a massive step."
Gipson entered the NFL after playing a 4-3 defensive end during his collegiate years at Tulsa. He transitioned to a 3-4 outside linebacker during his first two seasons in Chicago but now is back at 4-3 end in new head coach Matt Eberflus' system.
That change and Eberflus' scheme might be what fully unlocks Gipson, who no longer has to worry about covering wide receivers and instead can focus on one thing – attack the quarterback.
"They're just turning us loose," Gipson said. "Honestly, letting us play ball, play fast, play smart, with a tremendous amount of effort. So, I think that's something that's going to pay off for the whole defense, the whole team overall, and I think we're going to have great results."
Even if Quinn does suit up for the Bears this season, Gipson will be an X factor on defense. If he can build off his stellar 2021 season, the Bears will have a franchise building block at edge rusher. But if Quinn is gone and Gipson doesn't burst through his ceiling in Eberflus' defense, the Bears' pass rush could be toothless this fall.