This past offseason, the Chicago Bears embraced a new offensive philosophy by hiring Matt Nagy to replace John Fox as head coach. Then, they overhauled the offense in a busy and productive offseason, using free agency and the draft to add talent up and down the roster. With all those moves to rejuvenate a slumbering offense, however, it was easy for us to lose sight of the team’s commitment to continuity and excellence on defense, specifically in the backfield.
Indeed, the Bears’ three most used cornerbacks in 2017 – Kyle Fuller, Bryce Callahan, and Prince Amukamara – were all free agents this past offseason and could have ultimately signed elsewhere. Instead, two of the three agreed to multi-year deals with the Bears, while the third was brought back when he signed his restricted free agent tender later in the offseason.
Now, the Bears secondary is once again set up to be a strength in 2018, even if people don’t realize it: According to Danny Kelly at The Ringer, the Chicago Bears’ secondary might just be among the most underrated position groups in the entire NFL.
Earlier this year, GM Ryan Pace skillfully used the transition tag to retain Kyle Fuller, who had a career year after the team declined the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. Fuller turned in a stellar season in 2017, earning an 84.3 grade from Pro Football Focus, which finds him as the 21st highest graded player at the position and the best among the Bears.
Between putting together a strong season in Vic Fangio’s scheme and his respect for Mitch Trubisky, Prince Amukamara made it clear to his agent that he didn’t want to sign elsewhere. Fortunately, the Bears felt the same way and the two sides came together on a multi-year pact, which came after a season where Amukamara turned in a career-best 81.2 grade from Pro Football Focus.
The return of top-tier slot corner Bryce Callahan shouldn’t be lost in the shuffle, either. Even though Callahan has yet to put together a healthy 16-game season, he is an impact defender in his niche role and could be a big-time player looking to cash in on his walk year. In addition to having their three best cornerbacks back in the fold, the secondary returns both of its starting safeties.
Adrian Amos is constantly undervalued/underrated/etc. despite earning an elite grade from PFF, getting on the site’s All-Pro team and list of 101 best players in 2017, as well as being named Bleacher Report’s top-rated free safety. The perception surrounding Amos could be changing, as he popped up as one of five safeties on Pete Prisco’s 100 best players list at CBS Sports and was placed among the players PFF believes are on the cusp of being elite. Eddie Jackson, meanwhile, was one of just two rookie safeties to play at least 1,000 snaps in 2017, and he made the most of his playing time earning a spot among football’s top-20 safeties.
So to summarize, the Bears’ defense is highlighted by a secondary that has a player on the cusp of being a top-tier safety, three solid starting caliber cornerbacks, and a second-year safety whose arrow is pointing up after a solid rookie season. Sure, the Bears are going to have pass-rush problems in 2018 – especially if the injury bug turns its ugly head. But a having a dynamic defensive backfield could help offset some of those concerns. And it appears the Bears have that with Amos, Jackson, Amukamara, Fuller, and Callahan.