When you think about the Chicago Bears defense of recent seasons, the names that come to mind are Brian Urlacher, and Julius Peppers and maybe even Lance Briggs. Those three players had been the heart and soul of a fierce Bears front seven for many seasons and they always were a formidable challenge for the Vikings, even with
Urlacher has retired and Briggs and Peppers are holding down the fort. But another longtime staple of the Bears defense also remains. And while his name may not be as household across the country as Urlacher or Peppers, his name is most certainly not going unnoticed at Winter Park.
Charles Tillman. The 11-year veteran who has been a better-than-you realize cornerback in Chicago since he was a 3rd-round pick in the 2003 NFL Draft may be the best scheme fit there is in the NFL. On a defense that relies on making the opposing team fall into mistakes, Tillman is the most prolific at pouncing on those mistakes. He was up to his old tricks again last Sunday against Cincinnati, collecting a pair of interceptions in the Bears season-opening win.
“He’s terrific when it comes to turning the ball over,” Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said this week. “The first interception he got last Sunday, you could see his experience and how clever he is. He’s a very savvy guy. He’s gotten a little bit older in the league but he still has tremendous experience and got great instincts and tremendous anticipation and it shows up. He makes a lot of plays at that corner position.”
I’ll say. Tillman has 35 career interceptions, but more impressively he’s forced 39 fumbles during his career, including a whopping 10 just last season. One of them came against the Vikings. Tillman’s signature move is what many call the “Peanut Punch,” where he approaches a ball carrier with his fist clenched and punches the ball out, causing a fumble.
In 17 career games against the Vikings, Tillman has four interceptions and three forced fumbles, so relatively speaking the Vikings have done a nice job of keeping him from wrecking games. In order to pull off the upset this Sunday, they’ll have to continue that trend.