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Saturday Spotlight: Danny Trevathan Wants Another Ring

Throughout the 2020 NFL season, we’ll spotlight a Bears player in a weekly column. This week, we’ll take an in-depth look at Linebacker Danny Trevathan

New Orleans Saints v Chicago Bears Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Name: Danny Trevathan

Position: Inside Linebacker

Nickname: Leviathan

Number: 59

Age: 30

Time with Bears: 4 Seasons

The Past:

“Second and 6... BALL IS OUT...That was Trevathan who crashed down, and the Bears recover!

Danny Trevathan has worn blue and orange his entire professional career. Not in the way you might expect, but he has certainly made a career in dark blue primaries. Even in college at Kentucky, he wore blue, albeit a lighter shade. Such consistent color coordination could model Trevathan’s career of consistent play. You know exactly what you’re getting with this guy.

Drafted in the 6th round out of Kentucky in 2012, Trevathan was a gamble worth taking for a Broncos team looking to build a young linebacker crew behind their stud up-and-comer Von Miller. Building a young talented defense was essential for the Broncos, as signing future-Hall-of-Famer Peyton Manning at quarterback required a defense to keep him in games. After the Jaguars released Brandon Marshall, the Broncos scooped him up and formed a linebacker crew of Trevathan, Marshall, and Miller, then added DeMarcus Ware the next year to make a fearsome four. With Aqib Talib and company in the defensive backfield, that 2015 Broncos defense is still regarded as one of the best of all time, with Trevathan filling a complementary role to the extreme talent on that side of the ball.

Chiefs vs. Broncos John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The Broncos released head coach John Fox after the 2014 season, and the Broncos wasted no time finishing what he started, winning Super Bowl L over the Carolina Panthers and giving Trevathan a Super Bowl ring to highlight his career to that point. After his championship 2015 season, Trevathan followed his former coach to the Chicago Bears, signing a 4-year contract to become the Bear’s new starting inside linebacker. Fox and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio were trying to build a defense of experienced studs to match a coaching staff of experience over potential. The plan ultimately fell through, though. Trevathan had a knee injury from his time in Denver, and he was injured again in 2016, leaving him on IR at the end of the season. Finishing with a mere 66 tackles, Trevathan did not have a good start to his career with the Bears. With the Bear’s injury issues with Pernell McPhee, this was just more unfortunate luck for coach Fox as they finished 3-13.

Injuries and an unfortunate suspension plagued Trevathan’s 2017 season, although he finished with 89 total tackles, good for 2nd on the team behind just Christian Jones’ 90. With John Fox fired after a 3rd consecutive disappointing season, the Bears hired coach Matt Nagy, although they retained Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator. In 2018, things began looking up. The Bears had a stellar season overall, and Trevathan was no exception. He finished 2018 with 102 total tackles, the 3rd highest of his career as the Bears went 12-4 led by their superior defense.

Chicago Bears v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Bears defense struggled through massive injury regression in 2019, and Trevathan took one as hard as anybody. He suffered a nasty elbow injury that knocked him out of the last 7 games of the season, and replays of the injury don’t need to be watched by anybody. In relief of Trevathan, Nick Kwiatkoski filled in well, bringing his own skill set to a position of strength for the Bears. Where Trevathan was well-rounded, Kwiatkoski was elite in run defense. Both had contracts expiring after the year, and the back half of the season was a tryout for Kwiatkowski to potentially take Trevathan’s job.

Mirroring his first year with the Bears, Trevathan finished 2019 with 70 combined tackles through 9 games (66 through 9 games in 2016) and the defense struggled with losses to defensive teammates Roquan Smith, Akiem Hicks, Bilal Nichols, and Prince Amukumara at different times. The Bears finished 2019 with an 8-8 record thanks to their defensive depth, but with much potential left on the table, they set their eyes on 2020.

The Present:

Leading up to this season, Trevathan renewed his contract with the Bears on a 3-year extension with $14 million guaranteed. Kwiatkoski signed with the Raiders, and the Bears kept Trevathan as their starter. That shores up a massive position in the heart of this defense, along with Roquan Smith to man the other side of this interior linebacker crew. The two play very well together, with Trevathan crashing down on runs and scrambles and Smith excelling at both rushing the passer and dropping in coverage. The Bears did well to ensure another 2 years of this tandem, and Trevathan has already stated that he wants to “bring a Super Bowl back here” to Chicago, which would put him in elite company with Super Bowls won with multiple teams.

The Bears named Trevathan a defensive team captain for the first game of the 2020 season, along with Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks. His leadership and consistency is something younger players on the team look up to him for, and at 30 years old the Bears need him to be more than just a playmaker; they need him to elevate the play of others around him. After signing a huge extension before the season, it’s certain that Trevathan is here to stay for the next few years. The Bears need him to stay at the level they signed him at.

Chicago Bears v Detroit Lions

The future:

Trevathan struggled through the first 2 games of the season, and his role as a run-stopping linebacker begs the question: Why are the Bears so bad at stopping the run? Without Eddie Goldman (opt-out) stuffing A-gaps at the line of scrimmage, Trevathan has had to crash down often on run plays, and his lack of elite speed has been exploited. He has struggled against the Lions (see here) and Giants (see here) before picking it up slightly against the Falcons. He’ll have to pick up his game even more, though, as the Colts, Buccaneers, and Panthers all bring heavy run attacks to Chicago. Bears fans have to hope he’s not a liability.

Week 2 prediction:

6 combined tackles, 4 solo, 1 sack