Ellis: Bears' secondary got torched in loss to Eagles, and it was so encouraging


CHICAGO (670 The Score) – Get your violins out, because it’s time for some sports writer complaints. And actually, it’s just one: This Bears season has gotten stale. It certainly hasn’t always been this way – Justin Fields setting multiple quarterback rushing records with several weeks still left on the calendar speaks to, if nothing else, how easy this three-win team has been on the eyes. But his greatness has been, week after week, the Sunday night lede. There are only so many ways to craft the same headline and only so many ways to ignore how overwhelmingly uninteresting the team has been when he isn't on the field.

Good days for anyone not playing quarterback have been few and far between for the Bears this season, and I can't think of a single person on this planet who’s interested in hearing about learning how to win at this point. These tank wins have gotten awfully formulaic over the last two months, which is what made the Bears' extremely predictable loss to the Eagles on Sunday even more exciting: We finally caught a glimpse of some real development at another position.

I’d argue the Bears’ secondary took one of the most encouraging ass-kickings of the entire season Sunday. In fact, they’d argue that too.

“Everyone saw what we can do with the stops and the takeaways,” rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon said. “Building off of that, going through the roof, taking this team far, we all know we can do that. It’s going to come, for sure.”

To be clear, the Bears got worked. Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts threw for more than 300 yards – 315, to be exact. Top receiver A.J. Brown, whom the Titans willingly traded, had 181 of them. Fellow receiver DeVonta Smith had 126. The Eagles attempted passes of 20-plus yards 13 times Sunday. Thirteen times!

The Bears’ secondary got stressed vertically all day and was, for the most part, up for it. Of those 13 shots, only four were completed. Two of them were intercepted, including Gordon’s first in front of a home crowd. After a … tumultuous … start to his professional career, Gordon has come on strong to end the season, quieting a lot of the George Pickens envy that hung around Bears Twitter through the fall. When asked after the game, Gordon quickly admitted that it was probably his best performance in a Bears uniform, but he spent far more time pointing out what he could've done better.

“He made some good plays,” cornerback Jaylon Johnson said of Gordon. “The ball came his way, and he made the plays he’s supposed to make. As far as the fumble recovery, run to the ball and good things happen. Scoop the ball up and try to make a play. He’s been progressing all year, and it’s not surprising to see him make those plays. He’s a ballhawk. He’s a playmaker.”

Johnson vs. Brown was, for my money, the most entertaining individual matchup Sunday. Brown obviously got his – he tends to do that – but Johnson more than held his own. Especially early in the game, Brown seemed visibly frustrated by how tight the coverage consistently was. A 68-yard reception in the fourth quarter didn't help Johnson’s case, but anyone watching the game saw what was, for the most part, an even battle.

“I felt the matchup went really good,” Johnson said. “To a certain extent, there’s not too much I could do. I know I was in position every play. Sometimes it’s just a good ball, and sometimes I won. I thought the matchup was pretty even. Heck of a battle ... I’m a competitor. If you ask me, I didn’t play up to my standards. I don’t give up big plays, and I gave up a few. At the end of the day, it’s what happens. I’m going to be in his face, I’m going to be challenging him, I’m going to be there every time."

Praising a secondary that gave up 315 passing yards is almost exclusively reserved for December games that don’t matter, but the Bears, as they say, flashed a bunch Sunday. There will be times when they’re expected to, you know, not do that, but that’s a problem for next season. Sunday reminded everyone that there’s a not-too-distant world in which Johnson, Gordon, rookie safety Jaquan Brisker and veteran safety Eddie Jackson can make some serious noise as one of the league’s best units.

“We’re fighters,” Johnson said. “We made the plays that came to us. We feel the same way that we always feel. I know that sometimes things don’t go our way, but we never stop fighting.”

Cam Ellis is a writer for 670 The Score and Audacy Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KingsleyEllis.

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