How Jaquan Brisker plans to fix early-season tackling issues

·3 min read

How Brisker plans to fix early-season tackling issues originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Jaquan Brisker has been in the right place early in his NFL career, but the Bears rookie hasn’t been able to seal the deal.

Through two games, Brisker has a team-high seven missed tackles, according to Pro Football Focus. The Penn State product had a 42.9 percent missed tackle rate in the Week 1 win over the San Francisco 49ers. That number dropped to 28.6 percent in the Week 2 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Still, this season, he has a missed tackle rate of 33.3 percent. Rookies struggle early in the NFL. That’s not unheard of. Bears rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon is going through his own growing pains right now.

But Brisker isn’t struggling. The game isn’t too fast. He’s not out of position. He’s just not finishing. To him, that’s correctable.

“It’s just me taking the extra step,” Brisker told NBC Sports Chicago on Friday. “There were really no other issues. It’s just trusting myself and taking that extra step and playing under control. That’s really it. I felt like I was playing really out of control. Just missed a couple plays.”

Bears coaches are working with Brisker to limit the negative plays. There were too many instances in Green Bay where Brisker had a chance to make a tackle and either over-pursued or took a poor angle.

The Bears aren’t worried about Brisker. They understand this is the territory that comes with starting a rookie. It’s all about making sure the mistakes don’t keep happening.

“There are plays where he has made the plays and plays where he hasn’t,” defensive coordinator Alan Williams. “There are ebb and flows of ball games, and what I do expect, and I’m not sure how many made, how many missed, but we just want to keep reducing those negative plays that he missed.”

After watching the film of his performance in Green Bay, Brisker quickly diagnosed why he was so out of control. He knows himself and what led to those missteps. He felt the Packers taking control of the game and wanted desperately to swing the momentum.

“Honestly, I just wanted to make a play,” Brisker told NBC Sports Chicago about his issues in Green Bay. “The way the game was going, with certain calls, I felt like I wasn’t making enough plays as I normally do. So, I was just flying around trying to force myself. I know better than to force it on myself. I need to just let it come to me.”

Brisker easily diagnosed the problem. The fix should be even simpler.

“I just have to do my job,” Brisker said. “Trust my teammates that they are going to be there. Do my job, trust in my teammates that they are going to make the play or be right next to me. Whatever the call is, just always trust in my teammates and trust in myself. Really just let the plays come to me and be patient.”

Head coach Matt Eberflus had the Bears work “tirelessly” this week to clean up the tackling issues that caused them to whiff 17 times in Green Bay.

Brisker wasn’t the only culprit, but he was the worst offender. But the rookie is confident he has fixed his issue. His motor is part of why the Bears loved him coming out of Penn State. It makes him a natural fit in Eberflus’ defense.

But playing with the motor revved to 100 can lead to mistakes. Brisker needs to find a way to walk the line between reckless and relentless to be the difference-maker the Bears envision.

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