Adrian Amos started the 2017 regular season on the bench behind rookie Eddie Jackson, but fast forward seven weeks and there’s a case to be made for this duo being the NFL’s best safety tandem.
Amos has made Pro Football Focus’ Team of the Week in consecutive weeks and is now the site’s third highest graded safety. His 90.9 grade makes him one of three safeties to earn an “elite” grade from PFF, which is a remarkable leap from Quintin Demps’ 43.4 grade that ranked 74th among 85 qualifying players at the position. It’s also an impressive improvement from the 79.7 grade Amos picked up as a rookie in 2015 and 80.6 grade earned in his second year in 2016.
And then there’s Jackson, whose 81.9 grade ranks 20th among safeties. The Bears and the Arizona Cardinals are the only teams in the NFL with two safeties who rank in the top 20 on PFF’s grading scale.
PFF notes Amos allowed two catches that went for negative-2 yards on the four times he was targeted. It’s the latest sign that Amos, who made his mark as a sure-handed tackler and a defensive back who played sound fundamental football in his first two seasons, has improved as a pass defender. Of course, it’s great that he’s still getting it done elsewhere because recording seven solo tackles for the fourth consecutive week is nothing to sneeze at.
While Amos continued his solid play, it was Jackson (who joined Amos on PFF’s Team of the Week) receiving the bulk of the headlines and accolades because of an historic afternoon.
We’ve enjoyed discussing and re-visiting Jackson’s breakout performance in the days since he provided all of the offense the Bears needed to beat the Panthers on Sunday. But we didn’t realize Jackson didn’t miss a tackle in four attempts. That’s a major advancement in Jackson’s development because his weaknesses included being a poor and/or unwilling tackler who often took poor routes to ball carriers or receivers, according to draft weekend scouting reports.
If you’ll recall the Bears were often linked to several secondary prospects when they had the third overall selection. And with good reason, no doubt. The secondary ranked among the bottom five in hauling in interceptions in each of the last three years, but Chicago’s problems are deeply rooted and date back to numerous failed draft picks. Not that I want to re-visit the days of Al Afalava, Major Wright, Chris Conte, and Brock Vereen, but you truly can’t appreciate where the Bears secondary is now if you don’t know where they came from in the years that came before.
Finding good and consistent secondary play has been a major hurdle the Bears hadn’t been able to clear in quite some time. And seven weeks into the 2017 season, it looks like the Bears have a productive duo holding down the back end of the defense.