Bears' Emotional Leader Danny Trevathan Taking Early Success In Stride

October 12, 2018 - 12:05 pm

(670 The Score) On a warm June day two years ago, the Bears had their mini-camp interrupted for a moment. Practice was stopped briefly as a case was presented to linebacker Danny Trevathan. He opened it up and there was his Super Bowl ring, which he had earned months earlier in Denver.

Teammates moved around Trevathan to get a glimpse of the massive symbol of success featuring 212 diamonds. Many tried the ring on their fingers, imagining having their own some day. The newly signed Trevathan, a key figure for that Broncos championship team, spoke of the Bears winning one too.

"We're going to bring one back to Chicago," Trevathan told younger teammates back then in 2016.

Since his arrival to the Bears on a four-year deal, Trevathan has been the emotional leader for his young team. His vision didn't come to fruition in his first two years, as the Bears went 3-13 in his first season in Chicago, then 5-11 last year before firing John Fox. The Bears then vowed to change that losing track by hiring Matt Nagy as head coach. 

Finally, Trevathan is part of a winning team again. The Bears are 3-1 and in first place in the NFC North entering their matchup at the Dolphins on Sunday. They boast a defense that ranks second in scoring (16.3) and yards (294.5) surrendered per game and first against the run (64). The Bears are second in sacks (18) and takeaways (11) and have played one fewer game than the respective leaders.

And they could be just getting started.

"We can always improve," defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "Although we've played well, we haven't been perfect by any stretch. We just got to keep striving to be our best."

Superstar outside linebacker Khalil Mack has altered the makeup of this defense, elevating the play of everyone. The Bears have eight interceptions by seven different players and 18 sacks by 10 different players in part because Mack's presence is having a trickle-down effect of creating opportunities for others.

But the arrival of Mack, the growth of defensive lineman Akiem Hicks and emergence of rookie linebacker Roquan Smith has overshadowed the steady hand of Trevathan, who has been such an important piece for this defense. He has 24 tackles through four games, plus two sacks and an interception.

The Bears know what Trevathan means to them.

"He’s been doing what we knew he could do, which is help lead this defense," Nagy said of Trevathan. "He's making plays. He’s being opportunistic right now. He’s around the football. The one thing that stands out to me about Danny, every game right now he’s like a rocket. He just flies around everywhere. He’s around the football, and he’s moving fast. He’s playing fast, and he’s violent. He’s playing with an aggressiveness that we like."

Beyond his performance, Trevathan provides emotional leadership for the Bears. He's one of just three players in the locker room who has won a Super Bowl.

"You can tell he won a championship," Mack said recently. "That's definitely what he's bringing to the table. "

Super Bowl dreams are easier explained than realized. The beauty of the NFL is that so many variables factor into deciding which team hoists the Lombardi Trophy. It's what keeps Fangio's words and emotions constantly measured.

Trevathan knows well that for all the talk of greatness and early positive signs for these Bears, their work is just beginning. 

But at the least, he's again part of a defense capable of greatness.

"We're all just having fun," Trevathan said. "That's the thing that a lot of people don't see -- we're having fun playing with one another and we're flying around. Teams are having a hard time running and scoring on us.

"Each team is different. I sense that we're in a place where we know that people are like, 'It might just be a phase.' But our mindset is that we're working our tail off. We want to be No. 1 at the end of the year. We want to be somewhere we've never been before."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.​​