I don’t want to hear another word about George Pickens.
Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker, picks 39 and 48 respectively, can play ball. It was so clearly evident in yesterday’s blowout victory against New England that these two young defensive backs can be cornerstones of this defense for years to come. Critics have previously tabbed the decision of selecting two defensive backs with the first two picks as a mistake, with many still reeling over Ryan Poles’ decision to pass on offensive weapons in favor of the two. That narrative reached a screeching halt last night.
It cannot be stated how important it was for these two to have a strong night. With the direction this season seemed to be going in just over 24 hours ago, criticism and overreactions from all over the fanbase dominated headlines – people began to label Gordon as a bust, saying that the Brisker pick should’ve been used on a receiver, as well as a plethora of other things. These are mainly pessimistic takes, but prominent nonetheless. Shutting them up had to feel good for two young defensive players on a struggling team.
Brisker has been extremely solid all year, and perhaps just had his best performance yet. He recorded an interception and seven tackles, coming only second on the team to linebacker Roquan Smith. He had an absurd night in coverage, as he was targeted five times, and allowed only one reception for a total of -1 yards. He also added an interception. Brisker was all over the field, whether that be in the box, set deep, or rushing the quarterback. His versatility and ability to be a true playmaker was just what this defense needed, and has missed since Adrian Amos’ departure.
Gordon had a very rough start to the year, understandably so. He made the adjustment from week to week between slot and outside, even sometimes playing nickel. For as long as it takes for many NFL corners to establish themselves in the league, Gordon has made the jump from well behind to well ahead of schedule. Week by week he’s made subtle but visible improvements, and last night was no different. He was a true presence in the secondary, with lockdown coverage in addition to his interception late in the game.
Coming out of college, both Gordon and Brisker were known for their ball skills, and it’s translated well so far, yet coming into the game neither guy had recorded an interception – however, that changed. Brisker made the interception that ended Mac Jones’ night only a few plays removed from being kicked in the privacy area by Jones. Brisker was able to jump a comeback route perfectly, making a leaping one handed grab to get Chicago’s first of four turnovers on the night. Gordon’s interception came late in the fourth, when Bailey Zappe tried to fit a pass in a small window – Gordon was able to put a hand on it, and catch the tip. He would have scored with ease had Tyquan Thornton not been the one trailing him. Their athleticism and ability to see the ball were on full display.
It was a nice night for the 6 and 9 combo. As the defense begins to step into its own, these two young rookies will only get better. Don’t be so quick to count them out – they’re slowly but surely proving they were the right guys.