Members of the 2018 Chicago Bears continue to rack up the awards for what was a mostly wonderful season:
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) January 15, 2019
Pass-rusher Khalil Mack, cornerback Kyle Fuller, safety Eddie Jackson, and special teams ace Tarik Cohen were named to the Pro Football Writers of America All-NFL Team for the 2018 season. No team has more players representing than the Chicago Bears, which says something about how the writers felt about these players and this team. Impressive stuff all around. And if there is a feeling of déjà vu that you can’t escape, it’s probably because Mack, Fuller, Jackson, and Cohen were named first-team All-Pro members and voted into the Pro Bowl together. These four will be linked together for a while, and with good reason – they were all excellent and much deserving of such accolades.
Mack turned out to be a direction-altering franchise player who came up with a team-leading 12.5 sacks to go along with 18 quarterback hits, 10 tackles-for-loss, six forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and a pick-six. More than that, Mack contributed countless jump-off-your-couch, fist-pumping moments that made you think the Bears got off light trading two first-round picks to the Raiders to acquire him. Not a bad first impression for No. 52.
Jackson and Cohen were fourth-round picks in the 2017 NFL Draft who have turned the narrative of that prospect class on its ear. Cohen’s dazzling skills put him in an elite class of returners, even if he was limited to returning punts during the regular season. And Jackson made a huge second-year leap into stardom because of his knack for big plays, including six interceptions and three defensive touchdowns.
Fuller’s breakthrough is something that Bears front office members from this regime and the one that came before it can be proud of when looking back at 2018. Remember, Fuller was a 2014 first-round pick by Phil Emery. And while he had an uneven first three years with the team, he had a breakout 2017 and an even better 2018 season after signing a hefty new contract. Fuller finished the year with seven interceptions, which was tied for the most in the league, virtually wiping away the bitter memories of a Week 1 drop against the Green Bay Packers.
It’s been a while since the Bears have had a member of the PFWA’s All-NFL squad. Not since 2012 when wide receiver Brandon Marshall and cornerback Charles “Peanut” Tillman have the Bears been represented with players viewed as the best at their positions by the PFWA. So for this group of players to be acknowledged is truly something special.
No wonder I felt empty watching teams who didn’t feature this cast of standouts play football this weekend.