Bears' Roquan Smith: 'I know when I go out, I'm the best player'

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Roquan Smith: 'When I go out there, I'm the best player' originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Bears’ latest loss to the Ravens in Week 11 was ugly. There were plenty of mistakes, questionable decisions, and of course the injury to Justin Fields, but there was at least one silver lining: Roquan Smith put together the type of performance that harkened back to legendary Bears linebackers of yore.

Smith seemed to have a hand in every play that made it to the second level of the defense, and finished the game with 17 tackles. It was the type of game which should cement Smith as a Pro Bowl or All-Pro candidate. But amid this five-game losing streak, Smith doesn’t care.

“I don't really care too much about the accolades,” Smith said. “I just know when I go out there I'm the best player out there. So that's my thing and just go out there week-in and week-out and show that.”

Smith probably was the best player on the field in Week 11, although Robert Quinn and his 3.5 sacks have a case for that title too. Smith could feel that he was having a great game on the field, too. But he didn’t feel like he was hitting harder, or playing more explosively, or anything like that.

“It's probably just a couple more eyes this year,” Smith said. “So that's all it is. I've been playing the same, in my opinion. But hey, just a couple more eyes that just shows what you've really been doing.”

If Smith keeps playing this way, not only will he earn more national attention, but he’ll shatter his career-high of 139 tackles in a season, which he set last year. Smith is already at 110 with seven games remaining, putting him on pace for an incredible 187 for the year. Take out the extra 17th game this season, and he’d still crush his PR with 176 tackles.

It's worth mentioning tackles are a dubious stat to track. In addition, they’re hard to contextualize since they weren’t recorded before 1994. But using the data we do have, those are numbers that recent greats like Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs never sniffed. According to Pro Football Reference, across his numerous First-Team All-Pro seasons, the most tackles Urlacher ever notched was 153 in 2002. For Briggs it was 134 in 2006. No amount of deviation from a missed notation here, or an extra credit given there changes the fact that if Smith keeps it up he will have put together a historic year.

Smith said he knows he’s the best player on the field, when he is on the field, and on Sunday that was true. If he keeps playing like he did on Sunday, it’ll soon be time to mention Smith’s name among the all-time great Bears linebackers, too.

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