LAKE FOREST – When Matt Eberflus, Ryan Poles, and the Bears’ staff turned on Jaquan Brisker’s tape, they saw an old-school safety who exemplified the M&M philosophy they want to shape their version of the Bears.
Through six weeks of his first NFL offseason, Brisker has been everything they hoped for and more.
“He’s been really good, really good,” Eberflus said Thursday at Halas Hall after the Bear wrapped up mandatory minicamp. “In fact, I was just talking to [defensive coordinator] Alan Williams about him on the field, and we're just so thrilled with his talent, you know, with his mental makeup and just the person he is and where he is in his development so far up until this point.
“He's picking up the defense,” Eberflus said later. “He's picking up the defense, he's communicating with others. He's right on pace there, so we're excited for him.”
Brisker has been running with the first team all offseason. The Penn State product isn’t surprised by how quickly the Bears are throwing things at him. He had no doubt his time in Happy Valley prepared him to contribute on an NFL field immediately.
“I feel like I grew in the playbook,” Brisker said Thursday when asked where he has made the most significant improvement since being drafted. “I got better and more comfortable and know what I'm doing, know what my teammates are doing. You know, and just playing fast.”
The Bears believe Brisker, a hard-hitting safety, is the perfect complement to veteran safety Eddie Jackson, who is at his best when he can be a free-roaming playmaker in the backend.
Together, it’s easy to see Brisker and Jackson being a ferocious safety duo that serves as the backbone for Eberflus’ turnover-focused defense.
“Just having that connection, you know, on and off the field,” Brisker responded when asked why he and Jackson could be successful. “Just knowing we're going to be teammates and things like that and just trusting each other, and when you have trust in each other, we're able to play fast.”
The Bears had one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL last season. However, with the addition of Brisker and fellow second-round pick Kyler Gordon, Eberflus and Poles have seemingly taken a weakness and turned it into a strength with two shrewd selections.
Both rookies have shown a knack for creating turnovers this offseason. But it’s Brisker, who had unanimous support in the Bears’ draft room, who has Halas Hall buzzing with his versatility, intensity, and high football IQ.
“We kind of have some similarities,” Jackson said of Brisker. “He tells me he likes to be in the box. Just having that right there, he wants to be in there and I can be in the back and be free. We can switch it at any time, but just having some similarities is going to be fun.”
In the long run, a successful first OTA and minicamp period doesn’t mean much for Brisker or the Bears.
But the rookie safety has made the most of the first-team reps in the offseason and is on the fast track to being exactly what the Bears envisioned – a tone-setting safety who can free up Jackson to rediscover his All-Pro form.
If that comes to fruition, Eberflus will have the first piece to what may very well be the next great Bears defense.