Defensive player of the year: Jerrell Freeman
Coming into the season, many had their eyes fixated on the big name free agent signing, Danny Trevathan. His Super Bowl winning pedigree was bound to bring stability to the Bears’ linebacking corps. However, when Trevathan went down with injury, the Bears’ other free agent signing at linebacker began to shine all the brighter.
Jerrell Freeman came to Chicago as one of the best run stuffers from his time in Indianapolis. Opponents managed 4.5 yards per carry on the ground last year. With the addition of Jerrell Freeman, that number has dropped to 3.9 yards per carry. Granted, Freeman isn’t the only reason for the improvement, but he has been instrumental in the Bears’ steady improvement.
Moreover, Freeman has also brought forth another element of his game in pass defense. While he hasn’t registered an interception this season, he has shut down crossing routes for minimal gains. Freeman has also shown his ability to cover out routes in man coverage. Where most linebackers lose ground on tight ends and running backs, Freeman has maintained tight coverage no matter the personnel or route combination.
Most importantly, Freeman has asserted himself as the leader of the Bears’ defense. His strong, steady, and even keeled style has anchored the Monsters of the Midway through the first half of the season.