June 28, 2022

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Bears Coach Explains Why Jaquan Brisker Kinda Terrifies Him

Jaquan Brisker doesn’t carry the reputation of being a dirty player. Yet that doesn’t seem to have stopped some people from becoming a bit warier of the rookie safety. Back in the 2000s, Charles Tillman revolutionized the defensive back position when he became an artist at forcing fumbles. His Peanut Punch became mandatory learning for many. One person found out that those fists could do more than punch footballs. Brandon Marshall got into a fight with him once and instantly regretted it. Now it sounds like Brisker has a similar aptitude.

Nicholas Morrow revealed this week that the rookie already has two forced fumbles in practice, leading by example in what head coach Matt Eberflus wants from this defense. Everybody attacks the football. Turnovers are the top priority. Secondary coach James Rowe has marveled at how effective Brisker is at using his hands to connect with the ball. He doesn’t want to think about what might happen if somebody confronted him physically.

“Well, maybe (Brisker’s) punch is a little bit heavier than most because we ask everybody to punch the ball on every play,” Rowe said. “I probably would hate to get in a fight with him. Nah, he just has a knack for it right now, and it’s something we all teach, obviously, the Peanut Punch. So he’s just got a specialty.”

The weird thing is that specialty never showed up in college.

Across three years, Brisker didn’t force a single fumble. He did have five interceptions but it was apparent Penn State coaches didn’t instruct defensive backs much on trying to punch the ball out. Of the seven fumbles they forced in 2021 as a defense, only two came from defensive backs. Conversely, Eberflus’ Colts defense last year forced 18 fumbles. Five of them came from defensive backs. So the emphasis is clear.

Tillman himself stopped by Halas Hall to give a speech to the rookies earlier this month and also offered insight on the intricacies of the Peanut Punch. It seems Brisker took those tips to heart because he’s already giving ball carriers fits. With more practice, it may not be long before opponents once again must fear that lurking fist ready to end drives with a single jab.

Jaquan Brisker is the downhill presence they missed.

Nobody wants to admit it, but the Bears defense has desperately missed Adrian Amos ever since he left as a free agent in 2019. His ability to handle things around the line of scrimmage enabled Eddie Jackson to do what he did best in coverage. After Amos left, the Bears tried multiple options to replace him including Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Tashaun Gipson. Both weren’t terrible, but they couldn’t do the things Amos did. As a result, Jackson was never the same player.

That might finally be over. Jaquan Brisker is so much like Amos. Body type, playing style, temperament, and versatility all stand out. The scary part is he’s more athletic than Amos was. So not only can he be the box guy but a factor in coverage as well. He will be a Swiss Army knife for defensive coordinator Alan Williams to move around, creating matchups.

Offensive players will have to be aware of where he is at all times.

If they’re not, his growing reputation says he’ll take the ball from them as a consequence. Presuming his presence also helps Jackson rebound, that would give the defense two ball-hawking safeties on the back end. Just don’t start any fights if you get frustrated. Brisker probably isn’t one you want to throw hands with.

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