Brisker takes blame for critical Hurts TD in loss vs. Eagles


CHICAGO -- Jaquan Brisker was itching to make a play Sunday at Soldier Field. The Bears' defense had held the Philadelphia Eagles' vaunted offense to three points with 48 seconds left in the first half, and the rookie safety wanted to end the first half with a statement.

The Eagles were facing a third-and-8 from the Bears' 22-yard line when defensive coordinator Alan Williams dialed up a safety blitz. Brisker flew at the A gap between the center and right guard, but Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts went through the A gap on the other side and waltzed into the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown that gave Philadelphia a 10-6 halftime lead and swung the momentum.

Brisker hit the same gap as three-technique Justin Jones, leaving a massive hole for Hurts to go through for an easy score. After the game, Brisker took the blame for the critical mistake.

"Just a missed assignment from me," Brisker said after the Bears' 25-20 loss. "Just trying to make a play for the team but didn't really read where the tight end was. I should have went opposite the nose, so that one was one me. I told the defense.

"We were in zero [coverage]. I told [DeAndre Houston-Carson] to go take the tight end. I didn't really locate the tight end. Wherever the tight end is, I got to go opposite of that and opposite of the nose."

While Brisker admits he made a mistake, he doesn't view it as a rookie error or something that will stick in his mind.

As he sees it, he's not the only one to make a mistake on a Sunday in the NFL. The error was not one of youth or inexperience, but was born out of an overzealousness to make a play.

"I wouldn't put that in that category," Brisker said. "There's vets who make mistake but people just don't know about it. I wouldn't even say here in Chicago, I'm saying all over the league. Even the greatest players do stuff like that.

"It's just being away for a while. Made a play call. I should have been surveying the field and looking where the tight end was and putting me in the right spot. I really don't let stuff like that dictate my performance moving on. I know who I am. I won't let a quarterback sneak -- there's plenty of plays during a game that cost us."

The rookie safety owned up the error but didn't view it as a game-defining gaffe.

As Brisker sees it, the Bears still had plenty of opportunities to knock off the NFL's best team. Him choosing the wrong gap in the second quarter didn't seal their fate.

"Once he scored, I figured I went in the wrong gap," Brisker said. "I moved on. We got a whole game. That was like first, second quarter. It made it 10-6. So if we can't put up more than 10 then ..."

Brisker missed the Bears' previous two games while in the concussion. He has been the best player in the first rookie class for general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus. The Bears love his aggressiveness and instincts as a box safety.

But they also expect a lot out of him. Mistakes like that can't happen.

"Assignments are important," Eberflus said after the loss. "If you're a tight end or a guard and you have a protection and you're not doing it the right way, it's important. It's alignment, assignment, key, and technique. If you want to execute in the critical moments, which that might have been a critical moment, right, third-and-[8]. You have to get that done. We expect our players to do that."

The Bears are a young team that has been in a lot of one-score games this season. But they have failed to execute in those critical moments more times than not. Whether it's a missed assignment on defense, a dropped pass, protection error, or costly turnover, the Bears have consistently failed to make big plays when the moment called for it.

But the rookie safety wasn't the only one to make a crucial error Sunday.

Rookie wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. had another key fumble, this one coming midway through the third quarter. With the Bears trailing 17-13, Jones took the end around and was popped Avonte Maddox and T.J. Edwards. Jones coughed up the ball and the Eagles recovered.

It was Jones' third big miscue of his rookie season. One that Eberflus was not pleased with.

"I don't like that," Eberflus said. "I don't like it. I don't like when guys lose the football. It's not good. Guys have to do a better job of securing the football."

These are the type of mistakes that characterize a young team on the ground floor of a rebuild. The kind that need to be eradicated before they can start their ascent out of the NFC cellar.

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