June 25, 2024

Ranking the Top 10 Chicago Bears Impact Players

The Bears are looking for closers.

This should surprise no one after the way they finished the Denver and Detroit games, but they think they have found some.

“The mentality’s definitely part of it,” coach Matt Eberflus said.

 

The Bears are only a few protected leads from being a .500 team in the middle of the playoff hunt. Instead, they’ll simply try to keep improving.

“Mentality, that’s a great point, and that’s exactly where our mindset is—the mentality to finish, to make the good calls on offense and defense and also for the guys to execute and the playmakers to step up to make those plays,” Eberflus said.

Here are the big-time playmakers for the Bears this season up to the bye ranked in order, the most impactful players they’ve had.

Justin Fields says DJ Moore will "bring a lot of energy" to Bears WR room

1. WR DJ MOORE

 

Of course it’s Moore. He’s over 1,000 yards and has outside chances at Bears franchise records for yards (Brandon Marshall, 1,508). His 70 catches probably won’t put him close to Marshall’s other record of 118 receptions. It’s pretty impressive considering the way everyone complains about Luke Getsy’s play calling and that he had to play 4 1/2 games with a Division II undrafted free agent quarterback, Tyson Bagent. Not only that but he’s a tremendous leader and locker room guy. Carolina made a colossal mistake by letting him go in the trade, even if they did get a QB they consider their franchise for the future.

2. LB T.J. EDWARDS

No one epitomizes the rise of the Bears defense more than the former Eagles linebacker. He led the NFL in tackles coming into this week’s games. People keep comparing Roquan Smith’s play in Baltimore to Edwards. These two players really are in different positions. Edwards is in a 4-3 at weakside. Smith is playing one of the two inside linebacker spots in Baltimore’s 3-4. The tie between them is that Edwards is playing the weakside position in the 4-3 better than Smith did when he was with the Bears in Eberflus’ scheme. His play in relation to how Smith played in the 4-3 only certifies whan Eberflus and Poles thought when the decided they could live without Smith at the $100 million price he wanted to be their weakside linebacker, a critical position to the Tampa-2 style. And the Bears paid three years, $19.5 million not five years, $100 million.

3. CB JAYLON JOHNSON

The Bears will have to pay him now if they choose to keep him because he gambled on himself and won. It would be even more apparent if he would catch the pick-6s that keep coming his way now with a better Bears pass rush forcing the ball to come out too fast or off the mark. However, Johnson has three picks and could get more. He’s No. 3 among all cornerbacks in Pro Football Focus grade. The two rookies the Bears drafted that they’re very positive about are nowhere near the level where Johnson is. If the Bears are serious about winning, they’ll pay their own home-grown talent that is at a Pro Bowl level.

4. QB JUSTIN FIELDS

Why some believe Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields will bounce back  after rookie struggles - ESPN

He’d be up in the first two except he missed 4 1/2 games. The Bears running game hasn’t been as dominant with backs carrying this year as it was last year so his running has been critical even if it has been contained to shorter gains. Fields is only responsible for quarterbacking two wins, but he put up enough points to win two more.

5. NT ANDREW BILLINGS

The simple fact is the Bears were 31st against the run last year. Now they are No. 1 and Billings is the constant all this season as the nose who stops up the middle and prevents double teams on the three technique. Billings pretty much remade his body to be a lighter, quicker version at DT. Last year running backs had their pick of where to run up the middle. There’s no room now.

6. DE MONTEZ SWEAT

Eventually Sweat will move up the chart toward the top but as it is he has had a huge impact. It’s not just the 2 1/2 sacks he’s had in four games. The pass rush overall is more consistent and applying heat while earlier this year full series would go by without a pressure. Teams have to commit to stopping Sweat and others are taking advantage of man-to-man matchups. The Bears have been at 17 pressures or more each of the last four games while earlier this year they had trouble getting to double figures in games.

7. TE COLE KMET

When they decided he had to play more of a receiving role he did it, like against the Vikings, Chargers, Panthers and Broncos. A red zone threat for a team that needs them with five TD catches, and PFF says he’s the only player in the NFL who has not dropped a pass with at least 60 targets. Kmet’s PFF grade as a receiver is seventh among tight ends and he’s 11th overall among tight ends.

8. T DARNELL WRIGHT

Not so much in the last four games but earlier in the season the big first-round rookie carried the Bears offensive line. At one point he was the only real starter playing his intended position in games. Since a shoulder injury he decided to play through, his PFF grade has slid down to the bottomh half of the league at 53rd. His six sacks allowed are not as alarming as his nine penalties committed, especially the false starts. A total road grader when handling his position in the run game.

9. T BRAXTON JONES

He’d be rated up higher except for a long stint on injured reserve. Like with Jenkins, his presence in the lineup immediately made a difference and his pass blocking has improved tremendously over last year when bull rushes got the best of him. His 35th grade at tackle for PFF isn’t bad but they have him at sixth among tackles as a pass blocker and this is the tremendous improvement at work. He had been more of a run blocker last year.

10. S JAQUAN BRISKER

Besides taking on a leadership role as a young player, Brisker’s run defense and pass rush in blitz situations have made him look like a classic strong safety rather than a twin safety in the Tampa-2. He had to line up in the box, slot or defensive line 342 times and at deep safety or outside cornerback 242 times according to PFF. He’s all over the field and PFF grades him the 10th best safety against the run out of 88 it grades.

 

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