Bryce Callahan’s season-ending foot injury created an opening on the Chicago Bears defense that could be a cause for concern moving forward.
Vic Fangio: Sherrick McManis will replace Bryce Callahan at nickel cornerback, as expected. Looks like DeAndre Houston-Carson will help, too, possible as the dime back.
— Patrick Finley (@patrickfinley) December 13, 2018
The good news, I suppose, is that Sherrick McManis – who has been pegged as Callahan’s replacement as the nickel cornerback – is a wily, experienced veteran. He is the longest-tenured Bears player, knows his role, and can perform admirably in spurts. Unfortunately, McManis’ spurts are going to last longer because of how teams deploy sets with three, four, and even five wide receivers. But in a next-man-up world, McManis is the man and is ready for action.
He sure sounds primed for this opportunity:
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) December 12, 2018
McManis has knowledge of the defense and has shown some playmaking ability when given opportunities to step into that phase of the game. We’ll always have that interception against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 3!
The Bears aren't done yet!
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) September 23, 2018
This is a good find that shows McManis’ versatility and ability to be deployed like Callahan as a blitzer from the secondary:
3 guys on Mack nobody on McManis (until it’s too late – Gurley’s initial move was to chip Mack) part 3. This time to seal the game. pic.twitter.com/4uwpkYQCmc
— Jack Soble (@jacksobleTLS) December 12, 2018
And yet, there is a reason McManis has never been a full-time cornerback even as the league started trending toward needing three starting-caliber corners. That’s troubling if you really think about it, but not as nerve-wracking as the concept of Green Bay trying to pick at that perceived weakness like nobody’s business.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a knack for finding weak links on the defense, especially in opposing secondaries. He also has a feel for how to attack those weaknesses with surgical precision that is maddening beyond belief. Remember how he picked on inside linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski with crossing routes in the season-opener? Yeah, I’d prefer to forget that, too, but it happened.
McManis is the perceived weakest link and is probably going to be the guy Rodgers tries to target early and often on Sunday. How Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio plans to combat that will be the Bears’ biggest challenge en route to possibly clinching their first division title since 2010.