Give a hug to Bears fans and some love to Roquan Smith, NFL award voters. It’s been a hard year in Chicago.
I’m not sure if anyone knew, but the Chicago Bears had a difficult season in 2021. They ended the season with their lowest record since 2017. Of course, having postseason ambitions snuffed out before they really have a chance to burn will enrage any crowd, but Bears supporters aren’t strangers to double-digit loss seasons. They also lack a first-round pick. The issue with this season was that it was a complete waste of time.
From the Week 1 loss to the Los Angeles Rams (SoFi Stadium is cool, but only in Los Angeles can parking cost more than the game ticket) through the season-ending loss to Minnesota on Sunday, the 2021 season was a struggle. It got to the point where supporters at the United Center were singing «Fire Nagy» in unison as the Chicago Bulls got off to an unexpected, great start to their regular season.
On Monday, coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace were dismissed from their jobs, but the news conference that followed did the exact opposite of demonstrating competence to the current players, fans, media, ex-players, and anyone else breathing who doesn’t have the surname McCaskey. So, NFL, please assist one of your most renowned organizations’ fanbase in having a lovely dream or two this offseason. Give Roquan Smith some kind of recognition.
It’s understandable that he didn’t make the Pro Bowl. The fan votes, coach votes, and player votes are all weighted equally in the Pro Bowl selection process. With only two inside linebacker places available in each conference, Micah Parsons — designated as an inside linebacker despite his fame as a pass rusher — was expected to dominate the fan vote for one of those NFC berths.
That’s wonderful, but Smith needs to be an All-Pro this season, and a first-team pick is possible. His tackle totals and tackles for loss rank sixth and fourth, respectively, in the NFL among traditional linebackers.
Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders tweeted some fascinating statistics on Smith today. Smith is in the top five in two of his advanced statistical categories: defeats and passes tackle stops, according to him. Defeats is a stat that includes tackles for loss, forced turnovers, and stops on 3/4th down.
Smith was tied for sixth place in that category, with Matt Milano of the Buffalo Bills being the only other typical linebacker. On 3/4th down, a player tackles a pass catcher at least 60 percent short of the first down marker, at least 45 percent short on second down, and at least 45 percent short on first down. Smith is the NFL’s leader in this category.
Smith is one of the finest defensive playmakers in the NFL, according to advanced stats. Aside from preventing the other offence from scoring, the defence’s objective is to get their offence back on the field as quickly as possible. These are the types of drive-ending plays that an assistant coach would stop the tape, replay the play again numerous times, and laud a player for in a meeting. If you’re a rookie player looking to guarantee yourself playing time on defence, these are the types of plays that will keep your coach on the field if you make them.
For years, Smith was touted as a can’t-miss defensive prospect after the Georgia vs. Alabama national championship game I. Now that his Bulldogs have defeated Alabama without him, Smith isn’t having the same success as he did at Georgia, but he’s still making the same plays in the NFL.
He’ll be rewarded handsomely either this summer or next, becoming the league’s highest-paid inside linebacker. However, the Associated Press, Pro Football Writers, should make the man an All-Pro for his sake and the sake of Bears fans. Anyone who votes him first-team gets free Italian beef.