Bears linebacker Nick Roach is being overshadowed by Lance Briggs two touchdowns off of two interceptions, but he deserves major props for his own pass coverage.
Againsts the Jacksonville Jaguars Roach was given the task of covering the big strong and athletic TE Marcedes Lewis in man coverage. Roach excelled in this role against a player that far outmatches him in terms of athleticism.
Roach blanketed Lewis on two consecutive pass plays, first turning and running with Lewis on a nine route into the end-zone for a pass deflection. Roach maintained outside leverage the entire route and nearly came away with an over the shoulder interception. Roach's excellent positioning on the play was like that of the receiver, Lewis was trailing and Roach had position to nearly make the pick.
On the next play, Roach disrupted the timing of Lewis' route by getting a solid jam off the line of scrimmage. The jam and reroute by Roach led to a throw off in timing on the route intended for Lewis and the ball sailed incomplete.
These two plays overshadowed the earlier play in which Roach picked up Jaguars TE Zach Potter in man coverage on an outside breaking route towards the side line. Again the leverage displayed by Roach led to the incomplete pass on first down. That pass led to a second and 10 that ultimately led to a three and out by the Jaguars on their second drive of the game.
Roach's pass break up was his first on the season go go with 15 tackles on the season one sack and three tackles for a loss. Thus far Roach is enjoying his best all-around season as the Bears' starting strong-side linebacker.
At 27-years-old Roach may be in position to eventually succeed Lance Briggs as the starting WILL'backer given their five years difference in age. Roach is more ideally suited for the weak-side spot but his contribution as a run-stopper cannot be understated.
Roach's responsibility is to take on the TE or a pulling guard and still try to get off that block to make the tackle. His job is to team with the DE and turn things back inside and he will always be head up on a blocker, thus giving Briggs the freedom to make most of the tackles.
Roach was strong last year in run defense, with tackle per snap percentages equal to Urlacher. Again he is duplicating that type of production, again in a limited role given teams' tendencies to come out with three receivers sets giving DJ Moore some starts at the nickel spot.
Again Roach is proving to be a vital part of the Bears' front seven defense which is enjoying arguably it's best season ever with a less than healthy Brian Urlacher. It's Roach's play in the absence of a healthy Urlacher that hopefully gets the recognition among Bears fans that it deserves.