Kyle Fuller Will Be a Major Factor for Bears’ Success vs. Saints
Kyle Fuller will need to maintain his effective coverage against Saints’ star wideout Michael Thomas on Sunday.
As the Bears prepare for their NFC Wild Card matchup against the New Orleans Saints, the focus is on how they’ll stop their opponent’s high-powered offense.
New Orleans will have their best receiver back in Michael Thomas, which gives Bears’ corner, Kyle Fuller, a tough task on Sunday. Thomas last played in the Saint’s Week 14 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, a game in which he caught all eight of his targets for 84 yards. Despite not having a touchdown catch in the seven games he appeared in, Thomas has a pair of 100-yard performances and six games where he averaged ten yards per catch or more. Drew Brees will be under center, so it’s safe to assume that Thomas will see plenty of targets when the focus shifts away from Alvin Kamara. The former Ohio State Buckeye saw no less than six targets per game in his last six games. That stretch includes a 12-target stat line against the Atlanta Falcons.
As for the Bears’ best corner, 2020 has been one of Fuller’s better seasons in certain categories according to Pro Football Reference. Since 2018, the Virginia Tech alum has improved on completions when targeted, yards allowed per completion, and has forced opposing quarterbacks to look elsewhere for offensive production. Targets in Fuller’s direction dropped from 106 in 2019 to just 83 in 2020. Opposing quarterbacks completed 70.8% of passes against Fuller last season compared to just 55.4% this year. While #23 has only picked off one pass in 2020, he is still one of the tougher corners in the league to line up against.
One shouldn’t assume that Fuller will shadow cover Thomas, so some matchups may include rookie Jaylon Johnson against New Orleans’ top catcher. But when Fuller and Thomas line up against each other, the duel will be something to watch on Sunday.
Be sure to tune in to the Bears On Tap podcast to keep up with the playoff action as the Monsters of the Midway head to Louisiana.