Sep 15, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears cornerback Tim Jennings (26) leaps over Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (bottom) to return an interception for a touchdown during the second quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Sorry I’m late to the party on this one, as I was out on vacation last week. Having the second worst defense in the league in 2013, you can imagine my surprise when Chicago Bears defender Tim Jennings was named to the NFL’s Top 100, checking in at #74. Looking back at his season and his stats, he’s probably the only Bears defender worthy of making the list. Usual staples like Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs missed a lot of time with injuries and Julius Peppers came back down to Earth.
Jennings led the league in interceptions in 2012 with nine picks, but came down to Earth a bit himself, only nabbing four picks. But when you consider that he didn’t have Peanut playing opposite him and had to take on opponents’ top targets the last several weeks of the season, it’s pretty impressive. In back-to-back weeks, he held Dez Bryant and Josh Gordon to 5 catches for 79 yards combined. He had 13 pass breakups in 2013, which means opposing quarterbacks were willing to throw his way, but he was up to the task.
Jennings was also Johnny-on-the-spot more than once in 2013. He helped win the Giants game with a pick-6 and then a game-saving interception late in the game. He was recognized for another terrific season with another Pro Bowl, his second consecutive trip to Hawaii. Phil Emery rewarded Jennings with a hefty contract extension just days after the season ended.
I have to admit I was a Tim Jennings doubter. I couldn’t imagine a 5’8 cornerback being able to succeed among the 6’3″ and taller wide receivers that are commonplace around the league. Boy, was I wrong.