Every time Justin Fields and his wide receivers struggle during practices, they’re labeled as the problem. They aren’t good enough and must be better. This is true but also not the entire story. Credit must also be given to the Chicago Bears defense for doing their job. Based on the reports from Halas Hall over the past two days, the retooled secondary is making things happen. Jaylon Johnson remains a smother presence at cornerback, but the bigger surprise is how effective rookies Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker already are.
Every time a pass breakup is made during drills, those three names seem to be involved. Johnson is academic in his coverage. Receivers can’t shake him. Gordon has been beaten a few times but is rarely out of position and has excellent instincts for finding the football. Brisker might somehow be the best of the bunch, showcasing a rare mix of range and recognition. Throwing the ball in his vicinity is proving dangerous.
Chicago Bears’ defense is set up for future success.
The scary part about this new secondary is its age. Their oldest member, safety Eddie Jackson, is 28 years old. Johnson, Gordon, and Brisker are all 23 or younger. If the two rookies become quality starters, that is a secondary that can play together for many years to come. That doesn’t even include Roquan Smith, who is still only 24, and Trevis Gipson, fresh off seven sacks last year, who is 25.
Together with the presence of Robert Quinn, this defense is more than capable of playing at a top 15 level. It is early. Still, GM Ryan Poles deserves credit for what he managed to do this off-season. Despite limited resources and losing several key veterans, he still pieced together a unit with talent at every level. One can only hope he can work similar magic on the offense next year. He’ll have way more money and higher picks to do so.
Until then, it is exciting to watch this young group come together. With such an experienced coaching staff guiding the way, they may achieve more in 2022 than people think.