In Defense of the Defense, Payton Award Nominees, Manning Bowl, Luck Finally Speaks, and Other Bears Bullets

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In Defense of the Defense, Payton Award Nominees, Manning Bowl, Luck Finally Speaks, and Other Bears Bullets

Chicago Bears

Breathing in the ocean air during the bye week is as good as it gets. Especially knowing what awaits when I get back to Chicago later this week.

  • Watching the Paytons extend this honor to Johnson was pretty darn awesome:
  • Seeing Jaylon say “I think we did a damn good job” when talking about the Bears defense after a loss to the Packers had me shook. So much so, I needed some time to sort through my feelings. Mostly it was due to me being jarred to see the Bears share their belief that they played well. The results weren’t necessarily all there on Sunday. They didn’t sack Rodgers. And they coughed up a sizable second-half lead. But this angle from defensive tackle Justin Jones gives it some perspective:

“This was one of the first games where I felt like defense played pretty, pretty, pretty good,” Jones said, via NBC Sports Chicago. “Especially for what we had on the backend, our secondary, man, I’m proud of those guys. They came out there and answered the bell. Nobody was out there shook. Everyone was locked in on what they were doing, and communicating. It was beautiful. I’m proud of those guys, for real.”

  • Remember what the mini-bye did for the Bears offense? Perhaps the full bye will allow the defense to figure some things out regarding how they want to make things look to close out the year.
  • More Jack Sanborn? The rookie linebacker wasn’t chosen in the 2022 NFL Draft, but is making an impact since taking over in the starting lineup after Roquan Smith’s departure:
  • Fun with extrapolated stats alert! Sanborn’s five games since Roquan was traded: 2 sacks, 54 total tackles (43 solo), 5 tackles-for-loss, 3 quarterback hits. Per 17 games, those numbers look like this: 7 sacks, 184 tackles (146 solo), 17 tackles-for-loss, 10 quarterback hits.
  • What a bargain Sanborn could be if he keeps up this production. Sanborn shining now could lead the Bears away from spending to fill holes at linebacker and instead allocate funds to beef up the defensive line. Because if Sanborn is stuffing stat sheets with that defensive front in front of him, what could it look like if he had more room to roam?
  • I’ll say this for the Bears defense: If GM Ryan Poles can upgrade things in the trenches, their depth along the defensive line could be a strength at this time next year. Justin Jones is a capable starter, but might be best in a rotational role. Armon Watts, Trevis GIpson, and Dominique Robinson could be niche reserve players who thrive in a pinch. The last regime taught us how necessary defensive line depth in is building a team. And that has me hoping this front office takes that page from their predecessor’s notebook.
  • Cairo Santos missed a field goal and had an extra-point blocked by the Packers. That puts Santos in a relative slump at the moment. Santos is saying the right things, telling reporters “I just gotta do my job” after the loss. Hopefully, he isn’t too hard on himself. After all, Santos has been one of the Bears’ most consistently good players in recent years. (Sun-Times)
  • NFL playoff scenarios, of which the Bears won’t be a part of this year:
  • This is a must-read for NFL fans:
  • Yet another wild Tom Brady comeback win:
  • The sibling rivalry adds another chapter: Eli and Peyton Manning will coach against each other in the Pro Bowl Games. (NFL Media)
  • AHEM! Vote Justin Fields to the Pro Bowl:
  • Ah, now I see why Aaron Judge isn’t in San Diego (yet):
  • Ooh! They announced the Heisman finalists yesterday:
  • Months before Bears GM Ryan Poles gets his shot to go wild in NFL free agency, his contemporary on the Cubs — Jed Hoyer — has the “green light” to spend big this offseason. And it makes for a fascinating follow:
  • Here’s what’s on tap for the Bulls this week:
  • Blackhawks prospect watch continues:

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Author: Luis Medina

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