Recent additions Khalil Mack and Roquan Smith have helped propel the Bears’ defense to new heights, and to the top of the NFL in sacks, but it’s worth noting that there was a pretty solid foundation in place before the upgrades were made.
ILB Danny Trevathan’s Defensive Player of the Week Award for his performance in Week Two is the latest reminder. The seven-year veteran had the first multiple-sack game of his career vs. the Seahawks, forced a fumble on one of them, which OLB Leonard Floyd recovered, and had eight tackles. Trevathan leads the Bears this season with 15 total tackles and 11 solos.
“He’s come out with such high energy and enthusiasm,” coach Matt Nagy said. “He’s flying around and shooting the gaps. He’s just bringing that leadership that we expected from him when we got here in training camp. I think the guys feed off that. They feel that, they understand what it takes. It’s not just every other play -- it’s every play, and that’s what he’s done.”
Trevathan says he’s no different than the guy who signed with the Bears as an unrestricted free agent after the 2015 season. That was following four years with the Broncos, the last of which ended with a victory in Super Bowl 50. Trevathan led that 2015 Broncos defense with 109 tackles.
“Same Danny,” he said. “I just love being out there on the field. You never know how long you’re really going to be out there, so you want to appreciate the time you’re out there and the guys you’re with because it’s never going to be the same (from year to year). I learned that being in the league, and I love being with my guys, and I love winning games. Everything is better when you win, but it’s all about stacking those wins together.”
Trevathan’s only 28 years old but has been considered a team leader since he arrived in Chicago, partly because his enthusiasm for the game is contagious. Even the low-key Mack gets fired up when asked about Trevathan, and especially about this week’s award.
“Baller,” Mack said. “Congrats to my homie. Congrats, Danny. Congrats to my dog, man. Helluva effort. Yeah, made some great plays. Natural leader. When I came in, he was one of the first people to text me and welcome me to the team -- just getting that vibe and being around that brotherhood. He definitely brings that — tries to make sure everybody’s around and upbeat and upright. He’s very vocal in the huddle. Great communicator. All the intangibles you need from a middle linebacker.”
Part of Trevathan’s cachet also comes from his experience as a key performer on a perennial playoff team in Denver. In his four seasons there, the Broncos won 50 regular-season games and went to the playoffs every year.
“You can tell he won a championship,” Mack said. “That’s definitely what he’s bringing to the table. That communication and vibe that you feel from your vocal leader, it’s definitely what he does.”
Trevathan appreciates the love he got this week from teammates old and new, and he’s smart enough to realize that several of them could have been considered for the honor he received.
“It just goes to show that we have that family mentality here,” he said. “Guys make jokes about it, but we’re all trying to be that (guy), we’re all trying to be that person out there. It could happen to anyone, Prince (Amukamara), Akiem (Hicks), Khalil. Those guys played their tails off, so I’m just happy it was me.”
Amukamara had the pick-6 that gave the Bears breathing room in the fourth quarter after the Seahawks had rallied. Hicks anchored the run defense. Mack had a sack, a forced fumble and five tackles, including one for negative yardage.
“That’s what they pay us the big bucks for,” Trevathan said. “On defense, we all lined up together, we’re all friends, and we believe we can hold it down. The offense is doing its thing -- we already know they can get that rolling, and it’s going to be fireworks. On the defensive side, we just know we’ve got to have our offense’s back and just go out here and be the best defense on the field.”