CHICAGO — On first-and-goal from the 1-yard line midway through the second quarter, Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff faked a handoff and rolled to his left, looking to run for the go-ahead score.
Jack Sanborn would not allow that to happen.
The Chicago Bears rookie had his eyes on No. 16 and went into attack mode as he wrangled down Goff behind the line of scrimmage for his first career sack.
In his second career start, Sanborn led the team in total tackles with 12, nine of which were solo. He made his presence felt all over the field, but especially in the backfield as he notched two tackles for loss and had the Bears’ only two sacks.
His other sack on Goff came near the end of the third quarter on second-and-7. Sanborn came in on the blitz, was able to beat Lions’ guard Darrin Paulo, wrapped up Goff and took him to the ground to force a third-and-12. The Lions ultimately ended up punting after failing to convert on the play.
When asked about the play of his young linebacker, head coach Matt Eberflus was obviously pleased with the performance.
“He really had a nice game today for us,” Eberflus said.
One play that Eberflus was impressed with was Sanborn’s interception that was called back due to an illegal hands to the face penalty on Jaylon Johnson. It was a play that proved that Sanborn is rapidly developing.
“Really, what a nice play by Sanborn,” Eberflus said. “Gosh, getting in the window there, and that was really a game changer I thought for him and his growth.”
When asked about his interception that was called back, Sanborn didn’t complain. He did, however, acknowledge that it was a major call in the game that affected the Bears.
“It’s tough. Not just for me, but for the entire team,” Sanborn said.
While Sanborn may be turning the heads of Bears fans and the rest of the league, Eberflus is not surprised by what he’s seeing out of the undrafted linebacker. In fact, he saw it coming all the way back in August.
“If we go way back and look at preseason, you saw what kind of player he was,” Eberflus said. “He’s very instinctual, makes a lot of plays on the ball, and always reads his keys. He’s always on it that way.”
Fans should hope that this is only the beginning for Sanborn. For a player that wasn’t even drafted seven months ago, he’s looking the part of a legitimate starting linebacker.
And with seven games to go, there’s plenty of playing time in store for him to continue developing. Sanborn understands that he can use those games as further learning opportunities.
“With more experience you get, more reps and everything like that, the more comfortable and confident you become … Experience is the best teacher.”
If Sanborn continues to improve at this current rate, the Bears won’t have to shop for a Mike linebacker next offseason. Instead, they found one in the pride of Lake Zurich.