Bears 2018 position review: Defensive back

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The following is the eighth of eight position reviews of the Bears’ 2018 season.

Led by two first-team All-Pro selections in cornerback Kyle Fuller and safety Eddie Jackson, the Bears secondary produced impact plays all season.

The team’s defensive backs played an integral role in the Bears leading the NFL with 36 takeaways and 27 interceptions.

Fuller tied for the NFL lead with a career-high seven interceptions, the most by a Bears player since Tim Jennings led the league with nine in 2012. Fuller also topped the NFL with 21 pass breakups and leads the league with 43 the last two seasons.

Fuller registered two interceptions in a Week 6 game in Miami and later picked off passes in three consecutive contests against the Lions, Giants and Rams. His interception in Detroit late in the fourth quarter clinched a 23-16 Thanksgiving win.

In a 41-9 victory over the Bills Nov. 4 in Buffalo, Fuller had an interception and broke up two other passes that resulted in picks by teammates Adrian Amos Jr. and Leonard Floyd, who returned his interception 19 yards for a touchdown.

“[Fuller] is a true professional,” said coach Matt Nagy. “He comes to practice every day and it transfers to the field. Anytime you get interceptions, a lot of times you’re getting help from your teammates in regard to being able to get pressure. But then there are other ones in there too where he’s anticipating and reading the quarterback, and a lot of that is film study. I’ve loved getting to know him and seeing what he can do.”

Jackson recorded a career-high six interceptions and scored three touchdowns on two interception returns and a fumble return. His five defensive TDs since joining the Bears in 2017 as a fourth-round pick are tied for the most by a player in his first two NFL seasons (with the Jets’ Erik McMillan in 1988-89).

Jackson was named NFC defensive player of the month for November. He helped lead the Bears to a 4-0 record, scoring three touchdowns while recording 15 tackles, two interceptions, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and four pass breakups.

Against the Bills, Jackson stripped the ball from tight end Jason Croom and returned the fumble 65 yards for a touchdown. In back-to-back games, Jackson returned interceptions for key second-half TDs in one-score victories over division opponents. His 27-yard TD return helped lift the Bears to a 25-20 win over the Vikings Nov. 18 at Soldier Field and his 41-yarder on Thanksgiving in Detroit snapped a 16-16 tie and gave the Bears a 23-16 victory over the Lions.

“His confidence has grown each week,” Nagy said in November. “He's an opportunistic guy. He studies a lot of tape, which I think can sometimes become undervalued in this game. And he does a great job with that. He's a student of the game and he recognizes when to take chances. He is opportunistic, but he's smart in when to take chances and when not to.”

Lining up opposite Fuller at cornerback, Prince Amukamara compiled 66 tackles, three interceptions, 12 pass breakups, three tackles-for-loss and two forced fumbles.

His 49-yard interception return TD in the fourth quarter of a 24-17 win over the Seahawks Sept. 17 at Soldier Field was one of the Bears’ most important plays of the season. It was the first pick-six of Amukamara’s eight-year NFL career.

Safety Adrian Amos Jr. led Bears defensive backs and finished third on the team with 72 tackles while also registering two interceptions, nine pass breakups, two tackles-for-loss and one fumble recovery.

Nickel back Bryce Callahan was having a breakout year before suffering a season-ending foot injury Dec. 9 in a win over the Rams. He recorded 45 tackles, two interceptions, two sacks, six tackles-for-loss and six pass breakups while appearing in the first 13 games with 10 starts.

Defensive back Sherrick McManis, the longest tenured player on the Bears roster, also contributed in 2018, compiling 21 tackles, one interception, one sack, four pass breakups and two tackles-for-loss. He played as an extra defensive back most of the season before replacing the injured Callahan at nickel back in December.

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