The Chicago Bears might’ve finished with double-digit losses for the fourth straight season, but I’d argue that the team’s arrow is finally pointing up. And while the up-and-coming QB, new head coach, top ten draft pick, and bountiful cap space are all contributing factors, much of their promising future is thanks to work being done on the defensive side of the ball.
For example, defensive end Akiem Hicks was named the NFL’s best 3-4 defensive end by Bleacher Report’s team of scouts and Adrian Amos was ranked as the league’s best free safety. And now, days after Hicks landed on Pro Football Focus’ list of 101 best players, Amos joined him.
PFF’s Sam Monson has the completed list here, which places Amos as the 32nd best player in the league in 2017. Amos is one of 39 new entries to crack the site’s top-101, 13 of which are listed among the top 50. Awesome.
Perhaps this was no surprise, though, because Pro Football Focus seems to love Amos – they’ve already called him a secret superstar and the league’s most productive player (on a small contract), before mentioning him among the NFL’s Pro Bowl snubs and naming him to the site’s mid-season and year-end All-Pro teams. He certainly played to the PFF preseason hype and earned his place among the league’s best with how he performed in 2017.
Amos was one of three safeties to earn an “elite” grade from PFF in 2017, joining Harrison Smith (Vikings) and Lamarcus Joyner (Rams) in esteemed company. In total, only 30 defensive players earned grades among PFF’s elite, so Amos finds himself in good company on that side of the ball. Amos ranked 19th in tackling efficiency among safeties, missed just six tackles (in 76 tries), and picked up just two fewer stops than Smith despite playing 343 fewer snaps. Impressive work all around from the third-year starter who was part of Pace’s first draft class.
And to think, Amos started the year as an afterthought sitting behind Quintin Demps on the depth chart after losing his starting job to Eddie Jackson … only to regain it after Week 3. Amos is arguably the Bears’ most underrated players and is one of the league’s most slept-on defensive players.
With Hicks holding it down on the defensive line and Amos providing a strong presence in the secondary, the Bears’ defense projects to be a force again in 2018.