Seven players represented the Chicago Bears in the 2019 Pro Bowl after the Windy City sent zero athletes a year ago. Every Bear that set foot on the drenched field at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fl. made their Pro Bowl debut.
Despite the shortage of excitement from the league’s brightest stars in a 26-7 AFC blowout, the game acted as a testament to the incredible seasons that individual players and their teams had this year. The Bears capped off their season by sending seven new faces to the NFL’s all-star game after going worst-to-first in the NFC North.
Even though Chicago’s All-Pro outside linebacker, Khalil Mack, missed the Pro Bowl due to an injury, members of the Bears’ No. 1 ranked defense littered the field. Akiem Hicks, Kyle Fuller and Eddie Jackson were listed as starters for the NFC, but it was Fuller who made the biggest impact.
Fuller started the game lethargic and allowed a 33-yard reception to Raiders’ tight end, Jared Cook. He later made up for the mistake by intercepting the Colts’ Andrew Luck with just under 10 minutes left in the second quarter. The pass was intended for wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In the fourth quarter, Fuller allowed a touchdown reception to the Jaguars’ cornerback Jalen Ramsey, but broke up the AFC’s two-point conversion attempt thrown to Xavien Howard of the Miami Dolphins.
The Bears’ All-Pro cornerback finished the game with one tackle and one pass deflection to go along with one of the two interceptions for the NFC team.
Give credit to Akiem Hicks for his disruptive presence on both of the NFC’s interceptions.
The Chicago defensive tackle got in the face of Luck and the Texans’ Deshaun Watson resulting in each takeaway. Hicks finished his first Pro Bowl with two tackles.
Bears’ safety Eddie Jackson, the second-year starter from Alabama, was quiet tonight and failed to reach the stat sheet in this game, but ended the 2019 regular season on the league’s All-Pro team.
On the other side of the ball, the NFC offense struggled to pick up yards and finished with only 148 total yards gained during the game.
The Bears’ starting left tackle Charles Leno Jr. made his first Pro Bowl in relief of the Saints’ Terron Armstead. Early in the first quarter, Leno gave up a sack to Melvin Ingram of the Las Angeles Chargers. He started both halves but was part of a rotation with the Falcons’ Jake Matthews.
Second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky experienced his first professional all-star game as a replacement to the Rams’ Jared Goff who will be playing in Super Bowl LIII.
On his first drive, he went three-of-four for 24 yards as the first half expired. However, to start the second half, Trubisky threw a pass intended for the Vikings’ Adam Thielen that was picked off by Chris Harris Jr. representing the Denver Broncos’ secondary.
He played the entirety of the third quarter taking snaps from teammate Cody Whitehair – who replaced the Saints’ Max Unger — before being subbed out for the Cowboys’ Dak Prescott. Trubisky finished the game completing five of his nine pass attempts for 34 yards and one interception.
A staple from the Matt Nagy offense in Chicago was left devoid of touches as Tarik Cohen got his hands on the football just once on offense. He ended the day with two yards rushing and one return on special teams for 17 yards. The special teams ace was also on the field as a gunner during an NFC punt to the Jets’ Andre Roberts.
At the end of the day, the NFL’s yearly all-star game was sloppy and was often a bore to behold. For the Bears, the defense highlighted the Pro Bowl which was parallel to their 2019 season. There’s no shortage of talent on the defensive side in Chicago.
On the other hand, the offensive representatives were lackluster and will be a major talking point as the new season approaches next year and Trubisky starts his second season in Nagy’s system.
Despite the heartbreak this season, it was a giant leap for the Chicago Bears. Their presence among the league’s best players in the Pro Bowl symbolized their emergence. The team is pointing up, but the fans want Super Bowls and the team now has the talent to compete with the best the NFL has to offer.