The Bears went out in free agency and upgraded a very weak position by signing inside linebackers Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman over the last week. Both guys are expected to come in right away and give Vic Fangio's 3-4 scheme a huge boost.
Today, I studied film of Danny Trevathan's game, specifically the Week 16 overtime win against Cincinnati on Monday night last December. Here are my thoughts in the very first Bears Backer Film Review.
Note: Trevathan finished with 12 tackles, including a season-high eight solo tackles against the visiting Bengals.
Play No. 1
Below is just a glimpse of what he can bring to the plate as the defensive signal caller at inside backer. On the opening drive of the game, Trevathan stays in his gap to help bring down running back Jeremy Hill for no gain along with several other Broncos defenders. (Note: watch the video on mute, sound is distorted)
Breakdown: Trevathan looked strong at the point of attack here and he isn't afraid to get in on the gang tackle and lay out to make a play. This is just one of the many solid plays he made in this game.
Play No. 2
On the second Bengals drive of the night, Trevathan opened up with a ton of power recording back-to-back tackles on first and second down.
Breakdown: Trevathan stays at home on first down and brings down Hill on a short gain with a nice sound tackle. On second down, he sheds rookie tackle Cedric Ogbuehi's block and takes down Hill once again for a short gain. He came out as the Broncos went to the nickel package on third down. He later lined up in man-to-man coverage on the outside with running back Giovani Bernard. These consecutive tackles were part of Trevathan's best sequence of the night.
Play No. 3
On the first play of the second quarter, the Bengals were facing a 3rd-and-3 and quarterback AJ McCarron found Marvin Jones for a quick out as he went 15 yards for the first down.
Breakdown: This doesn't solely fall on Trevathan considering defensive backs Chris Harris Jr. and Courtney Roby both whiffed on tackles right in front of the first down marker. However, Trevathan took a poor angle on this play resulting in a nice chunk of yards for the speedy Jones. This is one of the few mistakes Trevathan made all night.
Play No. 4
On the next drive of the game with roughly 8:02 left in the second quarter, Trevathan found himself one-on-one lined up outside with Giovani Bernard.
Breakdown: Trevathan looked rather slow on this play as Bernard beat him pretty bad for an 8-yard gain on first down. Safety T.J. Ward came up to make the tackle, but Trevathan never gave up on the play lending a hand in bringing down the elusive Bernard. This is worse than the Jones play above considering it was solely his man. Trevathan is solid in coverage, so he should improve in situations like this with more seasoning.
Play No. 5
The last play I dissected was early in the third quarter on the fourth Bengals drive of the night. He made a big play when Denver needed it the most.
Breakdown: Trevathan winds up combining on the tackle of Bernard with defensive end Derek Wolfe but it wasn't after he destroyed second-year center Russell Bodine's block attempt. Trevathan isn't afraid to take on contact no matter how big the guy on the other side is. I absolutely love this hustle and this is something that he specializes in. He finds his way into running lanes in a hurry.
In watching Trevathan at both the pro level with Denver and the collegiate level with Kentucky, I've realized that he doesn't care who he goes up against, he's going to try to make a play. He finds his way into almost every play by putting his body on the line. He stays at home and plays with a high football IQ. He sheds blocks from tight ends and offensive linemen pretty well. At 6'1", 240 lbs, he isn't very big, but he plays a lot bigger than his frame.
Trevathan has endless energy and that is something that will be contagious for this new-look defensive unit especially his fellow inside backer Jerrell Freeman. The one thing that I saw often as well that I love about Trevathan is the fact that he doesn't get caught up in the moment. He gives a high-five to players when they make plays, but when he makes a great tackle he gets up and goes back to his job.
Overshadowed at times by Brandon Marshall, Trevathan will only get better in his fifth season and third as a full-time starter after he was limited to just three games with various knee injuries in 2014. The 2012 sixth-round pick is going to be a true leader for this defense and is certainly the best inside presence the Bears have had at linebacker since Brian Urlacher departed following the 2012 season.
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