There was one small negative that came out of the Chicago Bears 15-6 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night.
Slot cornerback Bryce Callahan broke his foot in the team’s biggest win of the season. On Tuesday, head coach Matt Nagy confirmed that Callahan broke his foot and would require surgery.
Callahan, who had been fully healthy for the first time in his NFL career, was having his best season as a professional. Pro Football Focus had him ranked as the eighth best CB in the NFL. In a league where defenses are in some kind of nickel package most of the time, having a solid slot CB is crucial.
Losing Callahan is a huge loss for the Bears. It will be interesting to see how the Bears decide to replace Callahan. For now, all signs point to special teams’ star Sherrick McManis starting for the Bears in the slot.
McManis hasn’t started a game since 2015. He did a nice job replacing Callahan on Sunday night. He recorded a team-high seven tackles. The Bears seem to have confidence in the former Northwestern Wildcat.
“When he’s in there I loved how aggressive he was. He’s a again, every player on our defense right now has elevated their game,” said Bears’ head coach Matt Nagy. “They’re playing together. They have the trust that if they’re aggressive, they go to make a play someone’s got their back and he’s shown that.”
Against the Cardinals, McManis was thrust into action after a Prince Amukamara injury. His response? An interception, tackle for loss, a QB hit, pass defense, and sack on just five snaps. The 30-year-old Peoria native has the experience and talent to contribute to the best defense in the NFL.
The Bears also added former North Dakota State DB Marcus Williams, a five year NFL veteran who played in two games with the Buccaneers this season.
Rookie Kevin Toliver could also see some time in the slot.
You can bet that teams will test McManis and the other slot corners of the Bears. It starts this Sunday with the Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers has owned the Bears over his career. Things are much different now.
The Bears can clinch the NFC North with a win or Vikings loss, while the Packers will most likely miss the playoffs altogether. Besides the quarterback position, the Bears have the better skill position players, the better defense, and the better coach, sorry Joe Philbin.
If there was ever a time to feel confident about the Bears beating the Packers it would be this Sunday, at home, with a division title in reach.
Now, that doesn’t mean things will be easy. Division games late in the year are always tough. I expect the Packers to attack the inside of the Bears’ defense. Randall Cobb should play and will be a factor on Sunday.
The Packers also won’t hesitate to put Devante Adams in the slot, arguably the best receiver in football right now.
Sunday is going to be a big test for McManis and the Bears defense.
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