After another stellar performance by Jerrell Freeman in Week 4, the ILB appears to be the glue that keeps this Bears team together in a time of negativity and uncertainty.
Jerrell Freeman chose to wear No. 50 for a reason. He believes that he can live up to the expectations that come with wearing the number of a Hall of Famer, Super Bowl Champion, and 10-time Pro Bowler. He believes that he can wear it with the same dedication, pride, intensity, and intelligence as Chicago Bears legend Mike Singletary was for 12 spectacular years. You better believe it, too. Freeman is not, and will never be Mike Singletary, but if there’s one Bears linebacker that deserves to wear No. 50, it’s Jerrell Freeman.
Just like people told Mike Singletary that he’s not tall enough, and that he’s not fast enough to play the linebacker position, people have been doubting Jerrell Freeman his whole career. Just like Singletary, Freeman plays with a chip on his shoulder, day in and day out. That combined with his power and instincts, that’s bad news for opposing offenses.
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Jerrell Freeman played Division III football at Mary Hardin-Baylor, where he finished his CFB career as the school’s all-time leading tackler. He then went undrafted in 2008, was signed by the Tennessee Titans, but was released before the start of the season.
Freeman was more or less forced to prove himself in the CFL from 2009 to 2011 as a member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, where he played in 51 games. He had his breakout season in 2011, when he lead the CFL in tackles (105), which resulted in the Indianapolis Colts giving Freeman his first crack at a career in the NFL in 2012. Freeman finished his first season in Indy with imposing 145 tackles and never looked back.
It’s 2016, and the Chicago Bears are 1-3, hampered by injuries, and in the midst of a QB controversy (well, it’s not really a controversy, is it?). But despite all the negatives, Freeman continues to bust his tail off, and most importantly, continues to deliver and provide the Bears defense with decisiveness, guidance, and versatility, and is on pace to finish his first season as a Bear with a career-high 150+ tackles.
We all know Jerrell Freeman is an absolute tackle machine, but have you seen what he can do in coverage?
Here’s an example:
With 11:14 to play in the second quarter, Matt Stafford and company trail the Bears 0-7 and see themselves confronted with 3rd & 6.
Theo Riddick represents an extremely difficult matchup for a linebacker, but not for one of Jerrell Freeman’s caliber. He shadows Riddick all the way to the sideline and the Lions end up punting the ball.
Week 2 — Jerrell Freeman shows off his play recognition. He reads the screen pass perfectly and tackles rookie RB Wendell Smallwood with authority.
Here’s Freeman stuffing the run in an extremely crucial situation:
8:43 to play in the third quarter and the Lions give Theo Riddick a chance to get in the Bears end zone on 2nd & goal. Freeman absolutely blows up Riddick, preventing a Lions touchdown.
Freeman makes another great play on 3rd & goal, allowing John Timu to come through with a perfectly timed run-blitz, forcing Detroit to kick the field goal and miss out on four valuable points (remember: the Bears only won by three).
With defensive anchors Eddie Goldman (ankle) and Danny Trevathan (thumb) dealing with injuries, and locomotive Pernell McPhee on the PUP list, it’s reassuring to know that you have a chameleon like Jerrell Freeman ready to fill the Bears’ needs in the front-seven with his versatility from the ILB spot. I truly believe the Bears can overcome injuries for the most part, and their defense can (at least partially) be glued back together with a 6-0/236 lbs play-making glue named Jerrell Freeman flying all over the football field.