When Brisker was asked about how he could be more involved in the defense during OTAs, he let everyone know, including his coaches, that he is capable of doing everything possible in his second season.
“Yeah just playing both sides, playing free safety, strong safety, just being moved around, being involved, playing low, playing high,” Brisker said. “Getting more blitzes, getting my name called more, things like that that I’ve been doing all my life. Nothing should change. They should use me. Like use me, like a lot. Like a bar of soap. Like literally, like Dove. Like use me. You know what I mean? Like literally. So just use me like I’ve always been. Just move me around. Let me help my teammates, let us help us win. That’s why I’m here. To win games, to go to the playoffs and win a Super Bowl.”
In Brisker’s rookie season, defensive coordinator Alan Williams utilized the former second-round draft pick out of Penn State all over the field. According to Pro Football Focus, Brisked played primarily in the box (371 snaps), followed by 289 snaps at free safety, another 150 snaps on the line of scrimmage, 100 snaps at slot corner and 43 as the wide corner.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound safety finished with 104 total tackles, four sacks (which led the team), one interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in 15 games played. Brisker’s 14 stops (tackles that constitute a “failure” for the offense) ranked him second behind Jalen Pitre’s 27 among rookie defensive backs.
What stands out about Brisker’s game is his physicality and contact balance. Playing in the box or near the line of scrimmage is no easy task. There is a lot of movement and players colliding with one another. Brisker consistently showed good spatial awareness when in this congested area of the field and simply stayed on his feet, which shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Here are two good plays from Brisker in the Week 11 game against the Atlanta Falcons. On the first play, Brisker is lined up in the box and immediately bursts up field at an angle towards the running back. Brisker quickly disengages from the right guard and helps to limit Cordarrelle Patterson to a 3-yard gain. The second play shows Brisker’s patience and tracking ability in space.
Effort is another trait that consistently shows up in Brisker’s play. In the matchup with the Falcons, Brisker dislodged the ball out of Patterson’s hands for his one forced fumble on the season. Brisker covered a lot of ground on this play and timed up his tackle perfectly to cause the fumble. (Also, notice how Brisker stays on his feet after the right guard tries twice to block him.)
When it came to Brisker’s coverage ability, there were mixed results. Brisker earned his best coverage grade (82.9) in the Monday Night Football game against New England. Patriots quarterbacks targeted Brisker five times and completed just one pass for -1 yards. Brisker also made his highlight play of the season with his one-handed interception against Mac Jones.
There were also snaps throughout games when Brisker was unable to close the distance on opposing receivers after they made their break on a route or he was late to get out of his back pedal. Here are two examples, one against the Cowboys and the other against the Bills.
Along with some coverage lapses, Brisker also did have 14 missed tackles on the season, which was the second-most among rookie defensive backs. Pitre finished with 29.
As expected, Brisker has some areas of his game he needs to work on as he prepares for his second season in the NFL. Something Brisker wants to improve in is his availability, since he missed two games due to a concussion. Missing time didn’t sit well with the young safety, and despite making some impactful plays for the defense, Brisker wasn’t all too impressed with his rookie year.
“I wouldn’t say really too much, to be honest,” Brisker said. “I really wasn’t happy. Yeah, I wasn’t happy. We went 3-14. I feel like I didn’t have the year I should have had. Got to finish off the year strong. I got to finish out the year healthy. I don’t want to miss any games — even in the preseason. I don’t want to miss too much time. I want to be out there with my teammates and things like that. So I feel like I definitely wasn’t happy with anything at all. So that’s my truthful answer. There was nothing I was happy about last year.”
Brisker shouldn’t be happy about missing games or being a part of a defense that finished last in points per game allowed. Accountability is exactly what this young Bears team needs if they’re going to put the organization in a positive direction.
Brisker’s mentality doesn’t go unnoticed, either. During OTAs, newcomer Tremaine Edmunds started to name some of the leaders on the defense. He singled out Justin Jones, Eddie Jackson and Brisker — which is telling since Edmunds had been in Chicago for just over two months.
When the play on the field isn’t meeting up to a certain standard, it’s good to have a player like Brisker who isn’t afraid to speak his mind.
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