With the Chicago Bears sitting at 5-5 coming out of a bye week, it’s easy for great individual performances to fly under the radar. After all, losing can quickly suck the air out of a team.
For Roquan Smith and Kyle Fuller, however, being overlooked was probably going to happen anyway. When most fans think of the Bears defense, the first names that come to mind are Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Eddie Jackson, and even rookie sensation Jaylon Johnson. One could suggest that Smith and Fuller wouldn’t have it any other way. Both seem to keep a pretty low profile during the season, which is why it can be surprising to many that they are both on pace to have career seasons. Let’s take a look at just how good they’ve been through ten games.
After an injury-plagued 2019 that saw his season cut short, Roquan Smith became laser-focused on being the best version of himself. He acknowledged the outside noise and embraced the chip that was placed on his shoulder by the media. He was ready to show the city what he had.
The hard work has paid off. Not only has Smith earned the respect of his peers and grown into the leader of a top-flight NFL defense, but he has proven he can take things into his own hands. When it comes to the box score, Smith has become a constant, proving he is among the elite around the league.
|Season Statistics||Combined Tackles||Solo Tackles||Tackles For Loss||Missed Tackle %|
(Among Players With 80+ Tackles)
(Among Inside Linebackers)
|Passer Rating Against|
|96 (T-2nd)||70 (1st)||15 (1st)||5.9% (T-5th)||2.0 (T-7th)||65.0 (24th)|
With six games left, Roquan Smith has a legitimate chance to lead the league in three major defensive categories. If that ends up being the case, it’s hard to imagine an All-Pro team that doesn’t include him.
A man of few words, Fuller does his talking on the field. While injuries were an issue early in his career, Fuller has been a model of consistency on some very good Bears defenses. Top-tier players in the secondary can be underappreciated at times, but the numbers don’t lie. Going into 2020, Kyle Fuller has been elite.
Not only has that remained constant this season, but Fuller is on pace to have the best season of his career. While Fuller doesn’t light up the box score with turnovers, he has been stingy, doing all the little things against top receiving threats around the league. Among corners who have started at least five games, Fuller is near the top of the league in most advanced metrics.
|Season Statistics||Completion Percentage||Receiving Yards Per/Target||Touchdowns Allowed||Passer Rating Against||Pass Deflections|
|Kyle Fuller (10 Games)||46.7% (2nd)||5.3 (7th)||1 |
|61.7 (6th)||8 (T-16th)|
For reference, Fuller’s completion percentage and passer rating against are better than his 2018 campaign, when he was named a first-team All-Pro. One name that seems to be synonymous with Fuller when researching these stats? Indianapolis Colts’ cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who has been considered one of the best defenders in football this season. If this trend continues, don’t be surprised if both corners are All-Pros at season’s end.
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