No one gave the Bears a chance to beat the Patriots in Foxborough on Monday night, and many predicted New England would dog-walk Chicago. Nevertheless, not only did the visiting squad come out victorious, they downright embarrassed the mighty Patriots 33-14. It was the Bears’ most convincing victory since 2018, as they were emphatically better in all three phases. Two of Chicago’s most impressive performances came from their first two selections of the 2022 draft, Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker.
Brisker got the party started early when he masterfully read Mac Jones’ eyes and leaped to make an incredible one-handed interception early in the second quarter. His first career pick could not have come at a better time, as the Patriots were driving and gaining momentum. The Penn State product was also a force against the run during the game (as he has been all season long), and he finished second on the team with seven total tackles. He and Eddie Jackson have already formed one of the league’s best safety duos, and there is no telling how much better they can become as they continue to grow opposite one another.
Brisker has been a bright spot on Chicago’s defense as soon as he entered the lineup, but the same cannot be said for Gordon, who has looked like a completely different player in recent weeks after struggling mightily to begin the year. The 22-year-old has improved every week and finished with his best performance of the year on Monday night. Not to be outdone by his rookie counterpart, he snagged a one-handed pick of his own late in the contest and was glued to New England’s pass-catchers all game.
Gordon and Brisker both look like they have the potential to become centerpieces on the Bears’ defense, but Chicago got heavily scrutinized for prioritizing the secondary with a slew of talented pass-catchers on the board in the second round. There is still a faction of Bears’ Twitter that explodes every time George Pickens sneezes, but Gordon and Brisker (hopefully) did enough to silence those naysayers this week.
I wanted the Bears to address the receiver position as much as anyone this offseason, but I also understood that Ryan Poles was tasked with turning around a roster depleted of talent, and going for the best players available was more important than winning favor with the fanbase. Pickens has been very good and could have a great career, but the same can be said for both Gordon and Brisker, and it is a lot harder to find starting-caliber defensive backs than it is to find starting-caliber receivers.
While the game-changing performances by Gordon and Brisker grabbed the headlines, they were not the only two rookies who performed admirably in the contest. Fifth-round selection Dominque Robinson also had a hand in causing Chicago’s third interception, as he tipped the pass that fell into the waiting arms of Roquan Smith midway through the fourth quarter. The 24-year-old also displayed strong pass-rush skills throughout the contest, as he had several pressures against former Pro Bowl offensive tackle Trent Brown.
Robinson was not the only late-round pick who played a great game, as fellow fifth-round selection Braxton Jones had one of his most impressive performances of the season on the offensive side of the ball. The offensive tackle held his own in pass protection and helped Chicago finish with nearly 250 yards on the ground. He made a critical downfield block that allowed Khalil Herbert to score on a 25-yard screen pass midway through the second quarter and looked more composed than he has been in recent weeks.
While Chicago’s rookie class has a long way to go before they can be relied on to play at a high level on a weekly basis, there is no denying the progress the group has made thus far. If they can continue growing into their roles as the season progresses, the Bears just might be able to continue surprising those who believe the team has no chance to compete this year. The future looks bright in the Windy City, and their impressive rookie class is a big reason why that is the case.