Kyler Gordon didn’t command the spotlight in the opener against San Francisco. Other rookies like Dominique Robinson and Jaquan Brisker stole that thunder. However, his presence made a bigger difference than people think. Not only did he make six tackles, including one for a loss, but he also played well in coverage outside of one mistake that resulted in a long pass play. People haven’t grasped how much the Chicago Bears asked of him.
Typically rookie cornerbacks are asked to play outside. That is because it is easier for them to deal with one side of the field. They have the sideline aiding them along with safety help. Such is not the case at nickel corner. They have way more ground to cover, having to play both inside and outside releases. Slot cornerbacks require footwork, quickness, and excellent recognition skills. All are traits Gordon has. That’s why the Bears moved him inside almost immediately. According to Courtney Cronin of ESPN, it didn’t take long for the rookie to turn heads, including his teammates’.
The Bears had one of the NFL’s worst secondaries in 2021. According to Next Gen Stats, a cornerback was the nearest defender on 27 of Chicago’s 31 passing touchdowns allowed, which was the highest rate in the league.
Gordon was drafted to help fix that. What was initially expected to be a gradual process of working him in at outside corner was quickly scrapped when Gordon grabbed hold of the notoriously difficult nickel role.
“Some of the plays he makes, it’s not even his man,” said safety Eddie Jackson, a former first-team All-Pro. “He’s coming off his man, making plays on the ball. So just seeing how very instinctive he is, he’s smart.”
Nice open field tackle by rookie CB Kyler Gordon. pic.twitter.com/LEmlybK2hT
— illwill (@79illwill) September 17, 2022
Kyler Gordon faces a big test on Sunday night.
Aaron Rodgers loves to work the slot during games. He also doesn’t mind picking on rookies either. Smart money says he’ll see a couple of wily veterans in Randall Cobb and Sammy Watkins during the game. He may have to deal with big tight end Robert Tonyan too. Not an easy task for what will be his second-ever NFL game. Then again, the Bears wouldn’t have put him in that spot if they didn’t think he could handle it.
Kyler Gordon will play a pivotal role in this game. If he can hold his own in coverage, the Bears defense might be able to frustrate Green Bay’s passing attack. They don’t have Davante Adams to lean on anymore. Rodgers doesn’t have any receivers he trusts. A good night from the secondary can finally help Chicago slay the dragon and change many minds about their future prospects.