It's Roquan Smith's birthday! Happy birthday to Roquan Smith – so sorry you have to spend it on Zoom. Hope you treat yourself to the finest meal Grubhub can offer.
You don't really need a reason to, but since it's his birthday, now seems like as good a time as ever to revisit some of Smith's best games. And thanks to NFL GamePass, that's super easy to do. So here are five places to start, and we'll save the best for last.
Hon mention: 2018 Week 1 vs. Green Bay (sack on first snap of his career); 2018 Wild Card (INT and six solo tackles, but Double-Doink, soooo).
Crazy how this game keeps showing up on Bears highlight lists! Everyone on the defense had a big day against the Bills, but Smith was especially outstanding. He had a game-high 10 solo tackles – 12 overall – despite only playing 86% of the defensive snaps. And even though Eddie Jackson got credit for forcing the fumble that he then returned for a touchdown, it looks like maaaaybe the FF should have gone to Smith:
Interestingly enough, Pro Football Focus is bearish on his performance – specifically against the run and in pass rush – against the Bills; Smith's overall grade (58.1) is among the worst of his career. Either way, it's still a fun game to watch for a dozen reasons, one of them being his performance.
There's Roquan Smith, and then there's Roquan Smith against the Lions. In his first game against Detroit, exactly 10 weeks into his career, Smith played 99% of the defensive snaps while putting up nine solo tackles (10 overall), a sack, a tackle for loss, a QB hit, and a pass deflected. Contextually, it was a big sack, too: Smith got to Stafford on a 3rd-and-9 from the Bears' 30, forcing the Lions to bring out kicker Matt Prater for a 55-yard try. They'd eventually call a timeout and choose to punt instead. On top of all that, it was his highest-graded performance of the season according to PFF, so they're not always grumps!
Smith's stat sheet is underwhelming in this game, but don't let that fool you – it's one of his more impressive games. For starters, it was approximately 165 degrees in Denver that afternoon (temp at kickoff was 87 so actually pretty close). A funny thing about being at that close to the sun is that it sucks in every way. The Bears were gassed that afternoon. Smith finished the game with 13 total tackles – the same amount he had against the Dolphins in equally miserable conditions – and was a major part of holding the Broncos to under 100 rushing yards on the day. Come for Eddy Pineiro's game-winning BOMB, stay for Smith's persistent run-stopping.
He's had better all-around games, but there's never a bad time to watch Smith grab the first and easiest interception of his career:
He finished the game with six total tackles and a pass deflection, but also played 59 snaps for a defense that held the previously 11-1 Rams to 52 rushing yards and 187 passing. He had an equally impressive game against the Rams in 2019, too, so if you want to sub that in here, go for it. You probably have the time to watch both honestly.
I don't think there's any question that this is Smith's best game as a pro. Playing on three day's rest, Smith set career-highs in sacks (2.0) and total tackles (16)(!!), tackles for loss (2), and QB hits (2) against Detroit on Thanksgiving. He was far and away the Bears' best player on a day when Mitch Trubisky threw for 338 yards and Anthony Miller had nine catches for 140 yards. It was also basically the last time played in 2019 – Smith would suffer a season-ending pectoral injury 17 snaps into the following week's game against Dallas.