Tyrique Stevenson: An Overlooked Strong Start

Vince Carbonneau
June 12, 2024  (3:12)

Tyrique Stevenson with the Bears
Photo credit: Chicago NBC Sports

Tyrique Stevenson: Rising Star in Bears' Secondary

Tyrique Stevenson's journey last season mirrors a baseball batter who starts the season 0-for-90 but then figures things out and ends the season hitting 10-for-10. His overall batting average may make him seem like a failure, but his late-season surge signals a promising future.
Stevenson was labeled as one of the most targeted cornerbacks in the league by Mason Cameron of Pro Football Focus (PFF), which was accurate. But that was last year. This year is a different story.
PFF's grading system tends to anchor players with a poor start, often overlooking their late-season improvements. This was the case with Stevenson, who made significant strides as the season progressed.
He is a key reason why expectations are high for the Bears' secondary this year. Cameron noted, "Five qualifying cornerbacks were targeted on more than 20% of their coverage snaps," including Alontae Taylor, Stevenson, and Eli Apple.
Despite being frequently targeted, Stevenson eventually turned the tables. "Playing across from an elite cornerback talent presents unique challenges, understandably leaving a crosshair on the opposite cornerback—the very situation Tyrique Stevenson found himself in as the counterpart to PFF's top-rated cornerback, Jaylon Johnson," wrote Cameron. With defenses avoiding Johnson, Stevenson became the primary target.
According to PFF and Sportradar, Stevenson allowed nine touchdown passes, which PFF claims tied for the most in the league. However, Sportradar lists James Bradberry of the Eagles as the leader with 11 allowed.
Cameron's analysis missed how teams continued targeting Stevenson late in the season, and the results were drastically different. Stevenson had four interceptions in the last six games and allowed only two touchdown passes in his final seven games.
Significantly, half of these games were played without Johnson, who suffered a season-ending finger injury. Despite this, Stevenson's performance improved, indicating his growth wasn't solely due to Johnson's presence.
PFF ranked Stevenson 80th overall among cornerbacks and 84th in pass coverage, underestimating his progress. The 33rd Team and Sportradar credited him with 16 pass breakups, not 13 as PFF reported. Marcus Mosher of The 33rd Team highlighted Stevenson as a breakout candidate for this season, noting his strong rookie stats: first in interceptions (4) and pass breakups (13).
"Given how well his rookie season went, it wouldn't be surprising for him to level up his game further," Mosher wrote. "With the Bears' defense rapidly improving, this could be a Pro Bowl-type season for their second-year player from Miami (FL)."
Bears coach Matt Eberflus attributes Stevenson's improvement to veteran support and the coaching staff's commitment to playing rookies early. "That's really part of a function of us playing the young guys, rookies, fast," Eberflus said, citing examples like Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker.
Eberflus praised the veterans for helping Stevenson adapt, predicting even better performance this year. "He had a really good year last year and we expect more out of him this year."
Stevenson's strong finish last season may have gone unnoticed by some, but it sets the stage for a breakout season ahead.
JUNE 12   |   33 ANSWERS
Tyrique Stevenson: An Overlooked Strong Start

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