How Can the D Bounce Back? Johnson's Clean Slate, Gordon Lights It Up, Celebrating Quinn, and Other Bears Bullets

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How Can the D Bounce Back? Johnson’s Clean Slate, Gordon Lights It Up, Celebrating Quinn, and Other Bears Bullets

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Cubs have outscored the Pittsburgh Pirates 37-0 in games I’ve attended this year. And at this point, I’m not sure anything these two teams do when they link up in my presence will surprise me. I’ve seen some unexpectedly weird (and fun) baseball this year. Wonder how long I can ride this wave…

•   It feels so cliché to have the Bears defense be the thing that piques your interest about the coming year. But these words from Jaylon Johnson sound so good to me:

•   It was good to hear from the Bears’ top cornerback on Tuesday, as it was his first time speaking to reporters this offseason. The Tribune (Dan Wiederer) and The Athletic (Kevin Fishbain and Adam Jahns) have more on what is an important Year 3 for the 2020 second-round pick, who seems to see the season to come as having a clean slate.

“It’s a complete reset,” Johnson said. “Everything I’ve done in the past with the other coaches, with the other staff, it doesn’t mean anything.”

For what it’s worth, I don’t think Johnson’s tape from previous years means nothing. But there is something to be said about proving yourself all over again for a new regime. I look forward to seeing if Johnson is up for the challenge.

•   The Bears had a minus-13 takeaway differential last year. That’s bad. Only the Jaguars (minus-20) were worse than the Bears, who were tied with the Jets and Panthers. But the takeaway differential numbers tell just part of the story of what was a rough year to watch in 2021. Chicago’s 16 takeaways were more than only the Raiders (15, Ravens (15), Jets (14), and Jaguars (9). The eight interceptions Chicago had is a woefully low number. Only the Jaguars (7), Jets (7), and Raiders (6) had fewer. We all know of the offense’s woes. But it sure would’ve been nice to see the defense do a little more to lend a helping hand.

•   Then again, the defense did so much of the heavy lifting from 2017-20, regression was bound to happen. Between injuries, player performance decline, and young players not taking their games to another level, it hit the Bears hard all over when the defense proved to be not as strong as it had been in prior years. Again, it was bound to happen. And yet, that defense still ranked 13th in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA. Impressive stuff, especially when considering how injuries were problematic and the struggles of a short-staffed secondary were evident on a weekly basis.

•   This warms my heart:

•   Expectations might be low for the short term. But it is amazing how valuable it can be for the state of an organization to remove the dark clouds that were hovering due to the presences of the former general manager and head coach. And it is another thing to start chipping away at dead weight those two brought to the table to bring forth the much-needed reset. No one truly knows what it will look like when the Bears get through the tunnel. But that they are actively traveling down a path that sets them up to build something without the constraints left behind by a prior administration makes me feel better about what is to come. Even if the immediate future isn’t this honky dory football story.

•   Even though Jonathan Taylor and David Montgomery are very different players, I’m totally here for Monty studying one of his contemporaries in search of motivation and inspiration. There is something to be said about student-of-the-game types who tend to thrive because (in part) they continue to work on their game. And oftentimes, drawing from what others do to make themselves better. Wouldn’t it be nice to see Montgomerys’ name with this group of backs:

•   A soul-crushing development in Tarik Cohen’s comeback story, as NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport confirms the former Bears running back tore his Achilles while working out on Tuesday. A brutal development, indeed.

•   Birthday salutations are in order for Robert Quinn, who broke the Bears’ single-season sack record last year and (as of now) is still a member of this defense. Let’s re-live his sack artistry in celebration.

•   Go get ’em, rookie:

https://twitter.com/ChicagoBears/status/1526714390002774016

•   Seeing this in person was an absolute treat:

•   Based on Zach’s dunk collection, I’d sure hope he’d make the cut:

•   I have my own rooting interests when it comes to the teams remaining in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But in case you don’t have one, here is something to guide you:

 


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Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.