Roquan Smith has had a rough start to the 2022 season
Chicago Bears All-Pro linebacker Roquan Smith has had a slow start to the season. Smith held out during the beginning of Bears training camp while trying to negotiate a new contract extension. He returned to practice with the Bears on August 20th. Smith didn’t play in any of the team’s preseason games.
His absence from practice and exhibition games appears to put Smith behind the curve in the Bears’ new defense. Smith has done ok tackling this season, as he’s accumulated 12 tackles through his first two games. But none of those tackles have been for a loss. Most of them have come way beyond the line of scrimmage. Those numbers are not suitable for Smith, who was compared to Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis for having similar numbers in the TFL category.
PFF grades are not kind to Smith
Roquan Smith hasn’t done much in the turnover department to speak of. No forced fumbles or interceptions have come from Smith this season. On Sunday, Smith seemed to have trouble with the Packers running game. Smith was taken out of a play, where he could have stopped a touchdown, by a running back, A.J Dillion:
Rough play by Roquan Smith Sunday Night. Here he gets stopped from defending a TD by a RB… pic.twitter.com/9qOwT6iKE3
— Jordan Sigler (@JordanSig) September 20, 2022
His efforts have reflected poorly on the stat sheet in the first two weeks. According to PFF, Smith has the lowest overall grade on the Bears’ defense this season. His overall defense is rated 29.3, and Smith has been ranked as the team’s worst player in coverage. Smith’s run defense is rated in the low 40s.
Head coach Matt Eberflus said in his press conference Monday that Smith played solid in Week 2.
Matt Eberflus said he thought Roquan Smith played "solid" last night against the Packers.
— Nicholas Moreano (@NicholasMoreano) September 19, 2022
I wonder what game he was watching.
Smith is in a contract year
Roquan Smith will need to elevate his game if he wants a better contract in future negotiations. Smith said he’d bet on himself when he returned to training camp. It’s been rough terrain since. The Bears need Smith to play better if they want a chance to slide into a Wild Card spot this season.
The way he’s started makes it difficult for the Bears to sign him for a long-term deal in the future. Smith has been seen to be a vocal leader before games, but his play on the field is not something his peers should model after the first two weeks.
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