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Joniak's Journal: Fuller, Youngsters Are Making Plays

By Jeff Joniak-

(CBS) The Bears topped the Jets on Monday night to move to 2-1, and they host the Packers (1-2) this Sunday at Soldier Field. Here are a few thoughts on the mind heading into the game.

First impression

The kids are all right! First- and second-year Bears players made plays on defense and special teams to beat the Jets. Cornerback Kyle Fuller, linebacker Jon Bostic, defensive tackle Will Sutton, defensive tackle Ego Ferguson, safety Brock Vereen and safety Ahmad Dixon all made at least one significant play that, if they didn't, would have changed the complexion of the game. Overall, I counted 18 first- and second-year players taking snaps, which is nearly 40 percent of the active 46-man roster on game day. That number includes starting left guard Michael Ola, who is an NFL rookie despite his pro experience in Canada.

Second thought

Fuller is a beast out there at cornerback. He's already busted up four passes and intercepted a league-high three passes, and Monday he forced two fumbles. He's doing it with excellent technique. fuller's consistently putting himself in position to make plays on the ball with his eyes on the quarterback. His college tape showed a willingness to initiate contact against the run, and so far he's playing with the same physicality and toughness in the NFL. Fuller is a very good tackler. He's only three games in and coming off his first start, but he's as promising a rookie defender as there is in the NFL.

Third Degree

Moving the ball on a defense is one thing. Scoring touchdowns is completely another. The Bears' red zone defensive performance was a game-changer Monday. In six trips, they turned away the Jets twice with no points while permitting three field goals and only one touchdown. The Jets scored 16 points in those trips out of a possible 42.

The Bears own a 76.2 opposing quarterback rating in red-zone passing, which is fourth in the league. They've allowed only 1.38 yards per rush on 16 red-zone carries, which is second, according to Stats Inc. Their defense has faced the highest number of red-zone possessions with 15 but have allowed only five touchdowns, a 33.3 efficiency percentage, which is second in the league. Those are also the only five touchdown drives Chicago has permitted. Two have been drives longer than 62 yards, but the other three were one-, three-, and four-play drives covering inherited short fields of seven, eight and 30 yards.


Taking a peak at the Packers game for Sunday's game, Aaron Rodgers is at the top of the NFL in quarterback passer rating in blitz situations. He tops after completing 18 of 23 passes for 78.3 completion percentage, 243 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions, one sack and a 150.3 quarterback rating. Defensively, the Packers are tied with the Raiders for the most third-down conversions allowed at 23, one of only four teams allowing at least a 50 percent conversion rate.

Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.

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