Each year, I participate in the NFL subreddit’s “Top 100 Players of the 20XX Season.” I have been partaking in this practice for the past three seasons, as I find it fun and challenging to rank these players across position groups for their single-season achievements. I always come away from this practice a smarter fan, and I enjoy the process of comparing the best Bears players against the rest of the league.
In doing this, I am one of 50-plus participants ranking players. Representatives from every fan base participate, and the process includes nomination, discussion, tiers, rankings, and eventual ridicule, humiliation, and regret. Full details on the ranking process are detailed in the hub post.
For each Bears player that was included in the top 100, I also completed a write up discussing their 2020 season. Players who were outside the top 100 but inside the top 125 received honorable mention without any write-up. I have included full write ups for each player here.
No. 107: David Montgomery (No Write-Up)
No. 103: Akiem Hicks (No Write-Up)
No. 101: Kyle Fuller (No Write-Up)
No. 65: Roquan Smith
In 2020, Roquan Smith lived in the opponent’s backfield.
In my personal opinion, this was the year that Smith officially entered the conversation as next great inside linebacker and one of the Bears best defensive players. All of the ranks below are among the 37 ILBs who logged 700-plus snaps unless otherwise stated.
Smith led the entire NFL in TFL’s in 2020 with 18. He ranked third in the NFL in solo tackles (109) and fifth in total tackles (134). Not only did he make all those tackles, but he rarely missed, ranking tenth in missed tackle percentage (6.9%). Smith made the fourth-most run stops (36) among ILB’s and ranked fifth in run stop rate (8.9%). Don’t let his bite-sized stature fool you, this guy plays like he has a Napoleon Complex he’s working through.
In coverage, Smith was the fouth-most targeted ILB in the league. But that didn’t slow him down, as he ranked first in completion percentage allowed (70.6%) and second in yards allowed per target (4.99).
He allowed only one touchdown on the season and caught two interceptions. His 36 pass stops ranked second, and his pass stop rate ranked first (5.9%). Roquan Smith entered elite status among LBs in the pass coverage aspect of his game in 2020.
As a blitzer, Smith wreaked havoc. He didn’t get the chance to go after the QB often, but when he did, he made the most of his chances. He only logged 48 pass rush snaps on the season, but he accumulated five sacks and 14 pressures on those 48 snaps. Those figures were good for a sack rate of 10.4% and a pressure rate of 29.2%.
All in all, Roquan Smith is an absolute animal, and was a real problem for opposing offenses in 2020.
No. 54: Allen Robinson
In 2020, Allen Robinson was the Bears offense for the majority of the season, serving as the team’s best offensive player. He accounted 23.6% of the Bears total yards. This rate was higher than all other WR’s besides Stefon Diggs (24.2%). Robinson also accounted for 34.2% of the Bears net passing yards. This rate was higher than all WR’s besides DeAndre Hopkins (35.9%) and Justin Jefferson (34.9%). As any Bears fan knows, the rushing offense took a major step in Week 12, as the ground game started carrying more of the load over the final six games. Until then, Robinson had accounted for 25.1% of the Bears total offense.
Among WR’s with more than 80 targets, Robinson ranked third in targets, sixth in targets per route run (24.8%), and third in drop rate (1%). As we all know, Robinson’s career has been plagued by poor QB play (Hackenberg to Bortles to Trubisky to Foles, please save us Justin Fields). That trend continued in 2020, and one has to wonder what Robinson could do with competent QB play. Among WR’s with 80-plus targets, Robinson was the ONLY player to reach 1,000 yards on the season despite over 30% of his targets being contested. In fact, his contested target rate (32.7%) was almost double that of Davante Adams (16.4%). Despite the ridiculous volume that Robinson saw on poor throws and contested targets, he still ranked 13th in yards per target and eighth in receiving yards.
This guy is like Stretch Armstrong in shoulder pads. And Ryan Pace, if you are listening, extend A-Rob now. Bear Down.
No. 23: Khalil Mack
Khalil Mack has filled his toolbox with every tool known to man.
Even when he doesn’t get home, he’s still impacting plays.
Khalil Mack is an offensive tackle’s worst nightmare, and he rarely comes off the field as the Bears best defensive player. In 2020, there were 23 EDGE defenders that played more than 50 snaps per game. The average NFL game consists of about 60 defensive snaps; these are the defenders who rarely came off the field. Three of these players set themselves apart from the group against both the run and the pass: TJ Watt, Brian Burns, and Khalil Mack.
Mack was the victim of some bad luck during the 2020 season. He had three sacks taken off the board due to penalties committed by his teammates. Among 23 EDGE rushers with 50-plus snaps per game, no other player had more than one sack negated by penalty. Despite losing those three sacks from his stat sheet, Mack still got in on 10 sacks, accounting for 28.6% of the Bears total sacks on the season (ranking fifth among the group discussed).
Had the negated sacks been included in each players totals, Mack would have accounted for 34.2% of the Bears sacks, ranking third behind Myles Garrett and Brian Burns. This was in spite of the Bears ranking 29th in blitz rate, ahead of only the Browns, Colts, and Chargers. Mack also ranked first in the NFL in flipping 320-pound offensive tackles.
Mack is more than just a pass rusher, dominating against the run as well.
He was one of the best edge defenders in average depth of tackle against the run (1.4 yards, ranking fifth) and is one of the most reliable tacklers at the position (missed tackle rate of 8.9%, ranking fourth).
Mack has a nose for the football and an innate ability to find the run lane.
Mack lined up against the opponent’s right tackle for 709 snaps. Opposing RT’s only drew four holding penalties against Chicago in 2020. Stats regarding penalties drawn are not readily available to compare, and holding penalties were way down in 2020, but I think it would be fair to say that Khalil Mack was held more than four times.
But enough complaining, because getting the calls or not, Mack continues to show out and dominate games.
That rounds out the group for the Bears best players of 2020, including one honorable mention and one top-100 player on offense, and two honorable mentions as well as two top-100 players on defense. The loss of Kyle Fuller could hurt in 2021, but the rest of the Bears top players from 2020 will be back for the 2021 season. With a little luck, maybe a few more Bears will join this list next year.