Special teams production (or lack thereof) was a glaring weakness of the 2018 Chicago Bears. And while the 2019 team has a fair number of issues to fix, the third phase isn’t one of them.
For that, you can credit first-team All-Pro kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson.
Patterson was the type of difference-maker the Bears needed to help get the special teams unit out from being one of the league’s worst units. He led the league with a 26.1-yard average on kick returns in 2019. Not only is that impressive on its own, it is worlds better than where the Bears ended 2018 with an average of 19.1 yards per return that ranked as the worst in the NFL.
For Patterson, this is the third time he has been recognized as a first-team All-Pro return specialist. The last time it happened was in 2016. And for good measure, Patterson was named as a second-team All-Pro as a special teams player. As we have noted previously, Patterson’s excellence as a gunner on the return coverage team has been top notch. It’s what got him sent to Orlando for his third Pro Bowl appearance.
When the Bears signed Patterson last offseason, it was easy to dream on how he could potentially be used in a creative offense. But as that unit faltered in 2019, the opportunities to use Patterson as a splash player were too few and far between. However, Patterson made an impact in different facets of the game and became a fan favorite almost instantaneously. Maybe next year, the offensive impact will come after Head Coach Matt Nagy and a new offensive coordinator come up with a new plan of attack.