What Kwiatkoski Brings to The Bears Defense
Sunday's win over the Detroit Lion's came with a loss. Danny Trevathan's arm got caught underneath him, and his elbow bent the opposite way of the joint when getting after the quarterback. The team still hasn't acknowledged if Trevathan will miss the rest of the season, but he is expected to miss extended time. Trevathan is the heartbeat of the Chicago Bears, and I'll miss watching him play, but with every injury comes an opportunity for someone else. Nick Kwiatkoski will be starting in the place of Trevathan. Luckily, Kwiatkoski has some starting experience throughout his time with the Bears, but he took a back-up role after Roquan Smith got drafted in 2018. I won't say that Kwiatkoski is an upgrade over Trevathan, but he does bring an element of nastiness the Bears defense needs right now. This article will highlight what Kwiatkoski brings to the defense.
Below is a clip with six plays highlighting Kwiatkoski's skill set. The overall theme is how aggressive he is at the point of attack. Kwiatkoski plays downhill and is great at using his hands and shedding defenders. Take a look at the video below.
1. In this play, you see Kwit coming up to take on a blocker. He stunts with such tenacity the guard has to shift and help his center. He doesn't give up any ground on the play, and it gives his lineman the ability to win a one on one match up and make the play. You will also see how hesitant Roquan Smith is taking on his blocker.
2. Kwiatkoski is showing his patience and hand usage. He keeps his feet moving and flows to the play side while keeping his gap responsibility. As the running back cuts back, he stays strong at the point of attack, sheds the blocker, and helps make the tackle.
3. When Roquan Smith had a mysterious absence against the Vikings, Kwiatkoski stepped in and played an outstanding game. He played a big part in the Bears dominating the Vikings rushing attack. The way Kwit sniffs out this screen is perfect. He couldn't have played it any better. He recognizes the screen, splits two defenders, and makes a clean tackle at the line of scrimmage. The theme is getting obvious, Kwiatkoski plays downhill.
4. Here is another example of Kwiatkoski's recognition and sure tackling. The Bears are stunting with multiple players, leaving Kwiatkoski to clean up any cutbacks. Remember, this is a team game, and everyone is doing their job here. A well-executed crack block by Marvin Jones on Eddie Jackson gives the running back a lane. Kwit reads the play, scrapes, and fills the hole on the backside for a minimal gain.
5-6. These last two plays showcase his ability to blitz. The first play is a highlight reel type play that I had to put in the article. He hits his stunt like a beast and posterizes Dalvin Cook, disrupts the pocket, and causes Kirk Cousins to move up. He doesn't get the sack, but he causes Kirk to fall right into Nick Williams's arms. The second play, Kwit hits his stunt, and Cook has no chance of blocking him. After he jukes Cook out of his shoes, Kwit finishes the play with a strip-sack.
Danny Trevathan is a great player and the vocal leader on the Bears defense. His ability to play downhill, and drop into coverage makes him an integral part of the defense. It won't be easy to replace everything he does, but the Bears are lucky to have Kwiatkoski. He won't play as many snaps as Trevathan because he isn't as effective in coverage, and Chuck Pagano will have to gameplan around some of his deficiencies. The one thing Kwit does bring is the enforcer mentality that the Bears have been missing since Akiem Hicks got placed on IR. His starting experience from years previous leaves fans hopeful the transition at ILB will be as seamless as possible. His pass coverage may be better considering he's in his fourth year now, and he may recognize and react quicker. We'll find out this Sunday against the Rams.