I got this idea from a series of articles at The Draft Network, where they are giving their superlative picks in seven different categories for all 32 teams. I had to run through it myself, but I wanted to get the take from our WCG team as well, And since I didn’t want us to have all the fun, I even shot out the question on Twitter to get your takes.
We’ve already looked at the Breakout Guy, the Comeback Kid, the Rising Star, the Don’t Forget About, the Needs to Rebound guy, and the Dark Horse MVP for the ‘19 Chicago Bears, but before we get into our final superlative, the Under The Radar player/story, let’s see what Joe Marino of The Draft Network picked.
UNDER THE RADAR: LOSS OF VIC FANGIO
A coordinators dream, this defensive unit has superstar talent and premiere defensive playmakers at every level of its defense. With Vic Fangio departing to become the head coach of the Denver Broncos, Chuck Pagano was hired to be his replacement.
Pagano has coached his share of great defenses and was a great option for Chicago to bring in. With that said, expectations for this unit are to not experience any drop off and continue its dominance from 2018. The personnel mostly remains intact and it’s believed that Pagano’s defense will feature more blitzing than what was called under Fangio. For a defense that features Khalil Mack and logged the third most sacks in the league, is it necessary to take guys out of coverage when you can generate pressure organically?
Everything could be just fine with this transition, but there is an adjustment to make after Fangio’s four seasons of chemistry and continuity to build Chicago’s defense into the unit we saw in 2018.
I like the pick of losing Fangio as the under the radar move to watch this year, but it’s not my pick — more on my choice later.
We all know what Fangio didn’t do during his time in Chicago (blitz much), but what he did do was fantastic. He was very adept at disguising his coverages and confusing opposing quarterbacks. He also took a collection of players and improved them each year he was in charge of the defense. While I think Chuck Pagano was the perfect choice to take over as defensive coordinator with the Bears, what happens in 2019 on defense is still a question mark.
We’ve seen some new wrinkles during training camp and also in the preseason games, but the regular season is a different animal. “We don’t know how they’re going to call plays,” Former Bears’ player and NBC Sports analyst Alex Brown recently told me. “With Coach Pagano, we don’t know what he’s going to do on third and one or third and thirteen. Is he going to allow the front four to get after the quarterback, or is he going to blitz?”
My under the radar pick is wide out/running back/kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson. We’ve yet to see how the Bears are going to use him on offense, but every time head coach Matt Nagy talks about him I get the sense there’s an interesting plan in the works. Patterson had a career high in offensive touches a year ago with the Patriots with 63, but I think Nagy will get him involved even more. The jet sweep action, a great way to stress a defense horizontally, could be used more than a year ago. Patterson will line up anywhere on the offense and his play-making ability is something defenses need to account for.
Now let’s check on who some other WCG staffers picked as Under the Radar for the 2019 Bears.
Erik Duerrwaechter - Chuck Pagano
How can the new defensive coordinator of an elite unit be considered “under the radar?” Well, ask that to the national media. A large number of nationally based analysts have pegged the Bears’ defense as a unit primed for regression, only because of Vic Fangio’s departure. Yet not one of those critics have referenced Chuck Pagano or his experience in handling a transition on defense.
He’s handled this type of transition once already. In 2011 he took over the third best defense in Baltimore after Greg Mattison’s departure for the collegiate game. During his first -- and only -- season as their coordinator, they maintained their elite status. He now has the same opportunity in Chicago to accomplish the same feat.
Ken Mitchell - Deon Bush, S
Bush is in a contract year, and if he gets the chance to play I think he’s going to show everybody that he has developed into a safety every bit as good as Adrian Amos was last year.
Robert Schmitz - Prince Amukamara, CB
With Bears’ fans attention focused on pretty much every other defensive player, it can be easy to forget how steady and reliable Prince Amukamara’s play is across from Kyle Fuller. The 9.5 million dollar man brings a physical edge to his battles with wideouts and matches up well against bigger, stronger receivers, giving DC Chuck Pagano options when designing game plans. He may not be the best corner in the world, but he’s a very reliable 2CB that I don’t believe gets enough attention.
Josh Sunderbruch - Leonard Floyd, OLB
That’s where he operates. I still don’t think he’s going to light up a stat sheet, but I do think that Pagano is going to find ways to use him, and I think he’ll do a steady and reliable job while fans complain that he should be accumulating numbers.
Sam Householder - Allen Robinson II, WR
I don’t think he’s under Chicago’s radar, my colleagues on this very post have been singing his praises, but I think Robinson, perhaps unfairly or just forgotten, is not thought of as a great WR. I think he’s going to be the Bears’ leader by far and a real go-to target for Trubisky. He got better and better as the year went on and everyone knows what he did in the playoffs, and I really think that’s where we’ll see him pick up. Especially on an offense that has bigger personalities in Cohen and Miller and an improved run game, Robinson could catch some NFL pundits and opponents, off guard.
Aaron Leming - Bilal Nichols, DL
There were a few candidates I could have gone with her, including someone like Leonard Floyd or even Buster Skrine. I think this spot is deserving for the second-year defensive lineman out of Deleware, though. Not only should he take another step after an impressive and somewhat overlooked rookie year, but he could be the eventual replacement for Akiem Hicks a few years down the line. With guys like Hicks, Goldman and of course Mack consistently taking on multiple blockers, Nichols could see prime opportunities to turn in a big year. He’s yet another reason why at least in the sack department, I don’t see this defensive unit taking a step back in 2019.
Patti Curl - Eddie Goldman, NT
Goldman will likely remain the under-the-radar stud on the Bears defense for the entirety of his career. It’s a rare bear that can occupy two massive offensive lineman at the same time--and by the way shed them when it’s necessary. He may get a safety against Jared Goff every now and then, and he may have a perfect name for “Sacks” puns, but the easily-distractable casual fan will always be looking elsewhere
Now let’s check in with Twitter to see what some of you guys had to say about your Under the Radar move for the Bears.
I was going to say Bilal Nichols but you already did a great piece on him. I'll go with James Daniels...2nd year, moving from guard to more natural position of center. Iowa develops great lineman, we have arguably the best OL coach in the NFL in Coach Hiestand and he is only 21— Michael English (@Menglish13) August 26, 2019
last year my guy was Wims..he didn't get on the field.. goin with Whyte this year.. they probably won't use him either but they should.. i think he with Cohen and two wideouts and mtgomry in the back would make em crazy.. zone D that all day long if you want.. oh yeah and Mitch— Richard Schaad (@RichardSchaad1) August 26, 2019
Eddie Goldman- NTs get no respect but will stuff the run so well that it will have to force teams to throw against Mack, Fuller & Jackson— ArchieTex (@ArchieTex) August 26, 2019
Against the Colts Horsted finally got the chance and made a splash. At the charity softball game he was clearly the most fluid athlete on the field. Probably needs to sit on the practice squad for a year, change back to receiver, and then become next year’s Wims.— Brian Phillips (@JillsHubby) August 27, 2019
Under the Radar: Mike Davis. Everyone is pretty hyped about Montgomery and Cohen but Davis being that complimentary back instead of Mizzell could pay dividends— Janssen (@thejanman64) August 27, 2019
Well, under the radar would be someone you’re not expecting much from this year but could have a huge impact on the team. Using that definition, I’d have to go with Patterson. But I do expect him to impact every game he plays. He’s just not getting much pub or hype...— Dr. Rich Nilsen (@RichNilsenPhd) August 26, 2019
Now it’s your turn, what do you see the Under the Radar move for the Bears?