Jonathan Anderson's 13 tackles in Week 9 against the Chargers was the Chicago Bears' single-game high in tackles for the 2015 season.
In his first game as a Bear this past Sunday, Jerrell Freeman had 17 tackles. It took Freeman all of one contest to outplay Chicago's entire linebacker corps from the past year.
Freeman's partner at inside linebacker, Danny Trevathan, had 11 tackles of his own, which matches the second highest single-game tackle total from 2015.
The duo combined for 28 tackles, which far and away the most of any Bears ILB pairing since Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher were in their prime.
Freeman's tackle total should come as no surprise, as he averaged 120 tackles per season with the Indianapolis Colts. Yet for Freeman, the statistics hold no value if the game results in a loss.
"We didn't get the win, that's all I worry about. Never really been a stat guy," Freeman said yesterday. "I'm just trying to do anything and everything I can to help the team win. I didn't do enough I guess."
In reality, Freeman and Trevathan did more than enough in the regular season opener. They not only combined for 28 tackles and 2 tackles for loss -- flying around the field, filling run lanes, closing off passing lanes and closing hard on plays in front of them -- but Trevathan also added a sack.
It was the lack of consistent pass rush, sketchy secondary play and an offense that just couldn't stay on the field in the second half that led to a Texans victory in Week 1, not the play of Chicago's new inside linebackers.
In fact, the play of Freeman and Trevathan was very encouraging. Willie Young and Lamarr Houston combined for 14.5 sacks last year, while rookie Leonard Floyd was fast and effective as a pass rusher in his debut. The ceiling is high for third-round rookie DT Jonathan Bullard, while Pernell McPhee should return by mid-season, so the pass rush should come around.
The Texans rushed for 129 yards on Sunday but most of that came in the first half. In the second half, Chicago's defense gave up just 27 rushing yards due in large part to the play of Freeman and Trevathan.
The impact of the Bears new veteran inside linebackers, both of whom were accomplished players before coming to the Windy City, cannot be understated. Trevathan and Freeman are leaders both on and off the field, and they showed in Week 1 that, even when things go sour, they won't spiral out of control as long as they're on the field. That should be comforting for Bears fans.
"I saw a lot of positive things, a lot of guys being on the same page, that's why we got a lot of those three-and-outs," Freeman said. "Sometimes you get breaks, sometimes you don't. It's just little things here, little things there. We'll just keep working to get better."
Trevathan and Freeman showed on Sunday that, as long as they are healthy, things will definitely get better.null