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Anatomy of Jalen Thompson’s 1st Q Interception

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Chicago Bears Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Background: Dec 5, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Arizona Cardinals free safety Jalen Thompson (34) reacts after his interception in the first half against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris

  • 3rd and 6 on Bears’ 1st Possession from their own 29 yard line.
  • Bears line up in a “trips” bunch formation to right, with TE Cole Kmet lined up to the left
  • Cardinals show man to man coverage underneath with safety help deep and a 4 man rush.
  • Cardinals get good edge pressure on the QB from Markus Golden and Chandler Jones, which causes QB Andy Dalton to rush his throw.
  • Bears get exactly what they wanted when they rub #17 WR Jakeem Grant on a shallow cross off of TE Kmet in the middle (who is guarded tightly by Isaiah Simmons), but CB Robert Alford gets picked and can’t maneuver around Kmet and Simmons.
  • Bears also have a WR from the trips side running a deep cross which CB Marco Wilson is busting his tail to cover. FS Jalen Thompson sees both routes coming and stays in position to read the throw.
  • DT Jordan Phillips does a great job of timing his jump and appears to get a fingertip on the pass, which causes the ball to soar over WR Grant’s head and into the waiting arms of FS Jalen Thompson who has a very good read on the play.
  • Even though CB Robert Alford got picked on the play, the Cardinals’ help defense with FS Jalen Thompson is very good because had the QB connected with Grant, Thompson was in a favorable position to tackle Grant before he could take the ball past the chains.
  • On a side note: WR/KR/PR Jakeem Grant (4.38 speed), who played for Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech, led the Bears’ WRs in this game with 5 catches for 62 yards and 1 TD. He is a UFA in 2022.
  • Jalen Thompson continues to thrive in Vance Joseph’s defense (10 tackles, 1 interception, 1 PBU vs. Bears —- 85 combined tackles, 2 interceptions, 5 PBUs and 3 stuffs on the season to date, with a PFF grade of 67.2 and pass coverage grade of 74.4).
  • JT’s 68 solo tackles is tied for 2nd among safeties in the NFL. His 74.4 pass coverage grade is ranked #11 in NFL among safeties who have played in more than 400 snaps..
  • Meanwhile, JT’s counterpart S Budda Baker is now ranked #1 by PFF in slot coverage for defenders who have covered the slot for more than 40 snaps. In 41 snaps in the slot, Baker has allowed 1 catch on 2 targets for 25 yards and 0 TDs.
  • On this play, Budda is playing deep safety, with Isaiah Simmons playing man to man on Cole Kmet and when Kmet can’t secure the reception and winds up flicking the ball backward, Budda Baker displays excellent concentration rushing up from behind the play to look the ball into his hands and subsequently take off with the ball on a dazzling 72 yard return.
  • What a safety tandem the Cardinals have in Budda Baker and Jalen Thompson!