Roquan Smith finally got the national recognition he deserves, along with some of his Bears teammates. The Associated Press announced on Friday that Smith, Robert Quinn and Jakeem Grant were all named Second-Team All-Pros for the 2021 season.
Much ado was made about Smith being snubbed on Pro Bowl rosters, and for good reason. Smith set a new career high with 163 tackles. That mark bests Brian Urlacher’s high water mark (153), and Lance Briggs’ (134), too (tackles weren’t tracked until 1994, so we can’t compare to other greats like Mike Singletary or Dick Butkus). And before you say, ‘Well, Smith had an extra game to top Urlacher and Briggs!’ Smith had 157 after 16 games, so he would’ve had more tackles than either guy accumulated in a season anyways. He also had three sacks, three passes defended and one pick-6.
Outside the numbers, Smith displayed incredible sideline-to-sideline speed. He routinely came flying out of nowhere to stop a running back gunning for a first down. But no stop was more impressive, or more deserving of All-Pro attention than his tackle on Kyler Murray in the open field.
That play shows up in the box score as just a regular ol' tackle, but it's clearly much more than that.
Quinn earned his second-career All-Pro honors after a sensational bounce-back year. After recording only two sacks in 2020, Quinn set a new Bears single-season record with 18.5 in 2021.
“Richard Dent is a household name around here,” Quinn said earlier this year. “To even be in that same conversation, it’s an honor… To look back on it, to think on it, it’s definitely an honor, a blessing. For where I came from last year to now is just一 from the guys just still believing in me, giving me another chance to re-prove myself. So luckily I had the backing of the guys in the locker room, so it made this year a little bit easier.”
Quinn also earned his third trip to the Pro Bowl this year.
Grant rounds out the list for the Bears All-Pros this year for his work on special teams. Ryan Pace traded away a 2023 sixth-round pick to Miami to bring Grant to Chicago back in October. Grant immediately made an impact in the special teams game and averaged 13.9 yards per punt return with the Bears this year. He was also one of only two players to return a punt for a touchdown this year with an electrifying 97-yard return.
On the season, Grant’s 11.9 yards/return average ranked tied-for-second in the NFL. But if you highlight only his time in Chicago, his 13.9 yards/return average would’ve been tops in the league.
Grant also earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl this year.