Steve Smith claims he doesn’t know who he is. The rest of the National Football League may not see it the same way as the Carolina Panthers wide receiver, who said of Bears cornerback Tim Jennings, “I kick his butt every time I’m up here.”
Jennings has had a special year for the Bears, including a pick-six on Sunday after Smith slipped, Jennings sixth interception of the season. Its funny that you can say it broke somewhat of a dry spell for Jennings, as it was his first interception in four games. The fact that you can rattle off that stat tells you what kind of year he is having.
Jennings came into the season with seven interceptions in his six year career, four coming with the Indianapolis Colts and three in a Bears uniform. Sunday’s pick-six was the first time Jennings had found the end zone in his career, another achievement he has been able to add since the beginning of this season.
Last season, Jennings had two interceptions, but he should have had a few more. Even Jennings has admitted that he knows he could have had more, and one of the things he did in the offseason was to work on being able to catch the ball. In training camp, there was Jennings working with the ball machine that you would usually see a wide receiver working with. The results are showing and they are impressive.
“The Hawk”, as some have been calling him, has not only been phenomenal while playing the ball. Since Jennings has been in a Bears uniform, he may be the Bears most consistent tackler. In his past two games alone, he has tallied 17 tackles.
Now that Jennings is starting to make a name for himself, teams are going to be a bit wary of throwing his way. Their other options are to either throw toward Charles Tillman, who is having a solid year himself, and has also made a name for creating turnovers. The other option is checking down to third and fourth receivers. The second option isn’t going to be something that is likely going to beat the Bears often. It is also a large reason the Bears sit at 6-1.
Sunday was the second time this season Jennings has had multiple interceptions this season, the first coming in week one against his former team in the Colts. The Bears defense as a whole is three pick-six interceptions away from the NFL record of 9.
With the way Jennings has played this season, it has made it easier for everyone else on defense. It is hard to find anyone on the Bears defense who has had many struggles this year. There was a time when Jennings was just hoping to be on the field, moving through a rotation that included Zack Bowman and others. At one point he was just looking to be named a starter. Now he may be the defensive player of the year.
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