Kyler's growth is biggest silver lining of Bears' loss vs. Eagles


CHICAGO – Thirteen weeks ago, Kyler Gordon was torched by Aaron Rodgers in the Bears’ 27-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
Rodgers targeted Gordon 13 times, connecting on 10 of those passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns.

After that game, Gordon remained confident that he would live up to the expectations attached to his draft status as a high second-round pick.

Cornerback and quarterback are the two positions with the most significant learning curve in the NFL. The Bears also put a lot on Gordon’s plate, asking him to play outside in the base defense and then slide inside and play the nickel in sub packages.

The Washington product has slowly stacked good performances over the second half of the season, flashing the talent and potential that had the Bears tabbing him as their long-term answer at nickel.

His tackling has improved, his coverage remains sticky, and his reaction time now seems on par with the NFL game.

All of that led to Sunday, where Gordon had the best game of his young career against the NFL’s best team, the Philadelphia Eagles.

Gordon intercepted MVP frontrunner Jalen Hurts on the Eagles’ opening possession and recovered a fumble later in the game that could have been a scoop-and-score had Gordon been able to maintain his footing on the Soldier Field turf.

Gordon also held up well in coverage against DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown, signaling all the work he has put in after practice and in the film room is paying off.

“He’s getting more confidence,” cornerback Jaylon Johnson said after the Bears’ 25-20 loss to the Eagles. “Just setting in. Continuous film work, the extra work that he puts in. Really just his fight. He always wants to get better. He’s always working on his craft in some way shape or form. Just getting more reps. I know he’s a good player physically. I feel like as a corner you want to get more reps, you want to be in those positions where you give up some plays or you need to figure out how to play in the ins and outs of this game and being at this next level and I feel like he’s doing a very good job of progressing.”

Gordon’s mindset has been the same since the moment he entered Halas Hall.

He has the supreme confidence needed to be a corner at the highest level. He knows he’s going to get beat sometimes. But he also believes he’ll win more than his share of battles.

Heading into that Week 2 game against Green Bay, Gordon knew the future Hall of Famer would go at him relentlessly. It was a trial by fire in the truest sense. Not one Gordon passed, but one necessary to forge the player he plans to become, the defensive cornerstone the Bears need at the nickel.

Gordon remembers everything. The good and the bad. He keeps it locked away as bricks that help serve as his foundation.

“Honestly, having all that time and the little mistakes here and there that I keep building up and saving in my memory bank, you know, taking all my experiences and putting it out there,” Gordon said. “I feel it myself too that I feel confident in everything I do. I’m growing and growing and growing. More energy is being put out on the field and stuff. 100 percent. I just feel like I keep growing.”

The question with Gordon was never about his talent. His rare movement skills and top-tier coverage ability were apparent during his time at Washington. He has shown flashes throughout his rookie season that he is building toward something.

He’s not there yet. But Sunday’s performance against the Eagles showed what Kyler Gordon could become for a Bears team that needs playmakers on the defensive side of the ball.

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The 2022 season has been all about growth for the Bears and the core of young players head coach Matt Eberflus and general manager Ryan Poles hope to build their championship aspirations around.

Quarterback Justin Fields rightfully gets all the headlines. His growth over the past 12 weeks has made the Bears’ season a success, no matter the record.

But Gordon is coming on strong as his rookie season nears a close. It all starts with the feeling he now gets on Sundays.

“It’s just getting comfortable,” Gordon said of where he sees the biggest change in his game. “Comfortability comes with being relaxed and being calm and being poised. With that, just being able to be calm and being able to see a lot of things that are on the field as far as formation, splits, as far as your mental game and what I’m trying to give off. Really being able to take all aspects and use them on the field as a DB, whether it’s mentally, physically, athletically, technique-wise and switching up things up.”

The Bears took the NFC’s best team to the wire Sunday. But on a day Fields gave the Eagles’ vaunted defense fits and Johnson battled Brown tooth and nail, Gordon might have been the brightest of the Bears’ silver linings in Sunday’s near upset.

But that’s what the Bears have been expecting of Kyler Gordon. That’s who he is.

“He has been progressing all year,” Johnson said. “It’s not surprising seeing him make those plays. He’s a ballhawk, he’s a playmaker.”

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