Life in the NFL is tough for a cornerback.
But it’s especially difficult to play the position when a player is flagged for making a good play. That’s exactly what happened to Bears rookie Kyler Gordon in the 12-7 loss to the Commanders at Soldier Field on Thursday night.
With 1:56 left before halftime, Gordon lined up in one-on-one coverage with wide receiver Curtis Samuel on third-and-5. Samuel ran a corner route towards the left sideline as the No. 3 receiver. Gordon shadowed him every step of the way and turned back to attempt to intercept the football. A good play by Gordon turned in a 17-yard pass interference penalty.
“I asked the ref after, ‘what did I do?’ He’s like, ‘you got to turn your head,” Gordon said. “To me I just brushed it off and go to the next play. Just try to make the next play next time. I feel like everyone around me or everyone that sees it knows what it is. I can only control what I can control.”
What Gordon did control is how he played the rest of the game after that blown call. According to Pro Football Focus, Gordon finished with a 77.8 grade – the highest so far of his young career.
Bears coach Matt Ebeflus brought up Gordon in his day-after press conference when asked about the development of young players.
“We know they are going to go through some ups and downs and some ins and outs as you go,” Eberflus said. “For example, Kyler Gordon, you look at the way he played last night, well, he played pretty good, didn’t he? So he’s had a couple ups and downs during the course, but he has stayed the course with his eyes and vision forward to improve. He made a lot of nice tackles, made a lot of nice plays on the ball, and I thought he played really well.”
Gordon showcased some of those “nice tackles” during the second half. He finished the game with six total tackles and made four of them on the Commanders’ second offensive possession of the third quarter. On first-and-10 with 3:22 left in the third quarter, Washington called a screen pass and had three blockers to escort Antonio Gibson, but Gordon avoided former Bear Charles Leno Jr. and made the tackle.
With this being a quick turnaround, Gordon said this was a “mental week,” which involved a lot of film study and that paid off for the young corner.
“I feel like I really emphasized on reading my keys this week,” Gordon said. “Just knowing that’s what will take me to the ball and then letting instincts take over from there. Definitely getting a good feel for what I’m going to get. Predetermined that and just recognizing formations so I really I feel like that definitely helped out a lot.”
Before the pass interference call, Gordon also made two back-to-back plays in the flat with his sound coverage. He forced an incompletion to Gibson and limited Cole Turner to a 5-yard gain on second down, which helped the defense get off the field on the Commanders’ third offensive possession of the game.
Despite the team experiencing its third-consecutive loss, the No. 39 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft took a step in the direction and Gordon intends to keep finding ways to elevate his game.
“Loss or win really, I’m going back and finding and correcting yourself,” Gordon said. “Just trying to not make the same mistakes and just going back and emphasizing what you can improve on and talking to coaches about it and then getting it fixed.”