People talk about Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, and Eddie Jackson a lot. They need to remember that a vital component to the success of the 2018 Chicago Bears defense was Kyle Fuller. He transformed himself into an All-Pro with seven interceptions. The most by a Bears corner since Tim Jennings had nine in 2012. Given this came after a disastrous rookie year and then a knee injury that robbed him entirely of 2016? It’s a tremendous comeback story.
Yet amazing as it sounds, there is even more to Fuller’s season than meets the eye. Cynthia Frelund of NFL.com, their analytics expert unveiled a previously unknown part of his productivity. Something that made his contributions to their successful 12-4 record even more undeniable. The fact that the majority of them came in clutch situations.
“Of Fuller’s seven interceptions (tied for most in the NFL), five came in the second half or overtime of games (the most such picks in the NFL). This is relevant because 10 of the Bears’ games in 2018 were decided by a score or less (Chicago won seven of those). Limiting second-half drives mattered a lot, and Fuller’s impact made a difference.
The combination of Fuller and safety Eddie Jackson (who had six total interceptions, with four coming in the second half or overtime) with the pressure upfront drove the Bears’ defense to be the best scoring defense in the league (allowing 17.7 points per game), which also had a higher overall win contribution metric than their offense.”
Kyle Fuller had 5 but he undoubtedly knows he should’ve had 6
That is impressive stuff. It’s a surefire sign that Fuller always seems to be in the right place at the right time. His pick with just over a minute left in Detroit sealed a win for the Bears. That said, everybody knows the young corner is a perfectionist. Even though he had five such interceptions last year, he’d be the first to say he should’ve had six.
That, of course, being the one he dropped in the opener against Green Bay. A pass that Aaron Rodgers put right in his hands. Had he caught it, the Bears would’ve won the game and in hindsight would’ve finished with a 13-3 record. That would, in turn, have given them a playoff bye over the Rams, allowing them to avoid the wild card disaster against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Then again Cody Parkey probably would’ve found a way to blow that game too. Regardless, the work Fuller has put in over the past two years is worthy of the highest praise.