Slump or Jump: What about Nick Kwiatkoski?

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 19: Matthew Stafford
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 19: Matthew Stafford /
CHICAGO, IL – NOVEMBER 19: Matthew Stafford
CHICAGO, IL – NOVEMBER 19: Matthew Stafford /

As the Chicago Bears 2018 offseason continues, there is no doubt that the Bears have gotten better on paper. 

Being one of the youngest teams in the NFL, the Chicago Bears have plenty of players at multiple positions that seem like they’re waiting to take take the next step. Today, we examine whether or not Nick Kwiatkoski can take the next step in 2018.

We’ve already examined whether or not Mitchell Trubisky, Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen, Eddie Jackson,  Leonard Floyd, and Adam Shaheen can take the next step in 2018.

2017 season recap:

In eleven games, six of which he started, Kwiatkoski totaled two sacks, thirty-four tackles, and one forced fumble.

Heading into the 2018 offseason, there was optimism surrounding Nick Kwiatkoski. The need for another inside linebacker on the Bears roster was clear. Considering the potential he flashed, many thought that he was next in line to be the Bears starter alongside Danny Trevathan going into the 2018 season.

There’s a lot to like when it comes to a guy like Kwiatkoski. While he’s not the fastest player on the field, he does have a high motor and shows a knack for wanting to make plays. Another thing to love about him is his toughness, which seems to be a key quality of Chicago Bears football.

One of the best things about Kwiatkoski is his ability to defend the run. He seems to show a knack for reading plays and quickly filling gaps, leading to plays with little or no yardage gained by the offense at all.

In pass coverage, he’s slightly inconsistent. While he did have two passes defended last year, he needs to improve when dropping back in coverage as there were times where he was beaten easily by slot receivers and tight ends.

However, with two new inside linebackers now on the roster, Kwiatkoski might not be the building block that he once was.  In fact, his future now seems cloudier than ever.

This past offseason, the Bears added Roquan Smith and Joel Iyiegbuniwe to the roster. One thing is clear: Smith is going to be the Bears week one starter which means that Iyiegbuniwe and Kwiatkoski will battle for the third inside linebacker spot, with veteran Danny Trevathan being listed at the team’s first linebacker. 

Whoever ends up winning the job will likely be used as a situational player on defense. For Kwiatkoski, things during the upcoming season will be more than just about being a situational player. Heading into year three, he’s approaching a make-or-break year where he’ll have to answer some questions. Does he want to be a valuable contributor on defense or merely someone who plays a special teams role? 

Unfortunately, it seems as if Kwiatkoski will have a down year in 2018. Both Joel Iyiegbuniwe and Roquan Smith bring an element that Kwiatkoski lacks: Speed. That’s where Kwiatkoski’s biggest weakness is as he’s not able to fly from sideline-to-sideline. While he will flash potential, it won’t be enough for him to take the next step. Make no mistake regarding Kwiatkoski. He can still be a solid contributor on this team, but not at the level that he was once envisioned to be. And it seems as if 2018 will be the first year that we begin to see it. 

Prediction: Slump