There has been a lot of attention paid to the Chicago Bears offense this offseason. Brandon Marshall, Jason Campbell, Michael Bush, etc., etc. All we hear about heading into training camp is about the Bears offensive line and how they haven’t done anything to improve the beleaguered group. While that’s true from a personnel standpoint, the Bears have done a lot to try to put the guys they have into a better position to succeed. Mike Tice will get the best out of this group and Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte will do the rest.
Instead of the offensive line, the Bears’ secondary is my primary concern. Hit the jump to see whyPeanut Tillman enjoyed his first Pro Bowl season in 2011. Not bad for another guy on the Bears defense on the wrong side of the age 30. Besides Tillman, the Bears secondary is a bit up for grabs. A lack of consistency and cohesiveness in the secondary makes it difficult for the unit to get the necessary communication to prevent big plays.
As Brad Biggs points out, the safety position for the Bears has been a revolving door under Lovie Smith, not exactly what you want in a Cover-2 defense where the safeties are relied upon to prevent big plays over the top.
Chris Conte showed potential as a rookie, especially considering that he didn’t get an offseason program. This will be a big season for him to see if he can build on a promising rookie season. Major Wright has had his ups and downs. Another in the long line of Jerry Angelo’s drafted safeties, he’s struggled with discipline and bumps and bruises. He’ll be battling for playing time with rookie Brandon Hardin, a converted cornerback, and Craig Steltz, who’s been steady but never spectacular.
At the cornerback position, Peanut is locked in at one side, but his age and multiple offseason surgeries are definitely an area of concern. Tim Jennings is underrated, but his small stature won’t match up well with the Megatrons of the world. The Bears brought in veterans like Kelvin Hayden and Jonathan Wilhite and took a couple more fliers on late round draft picks Greg McCoy and Isaiah Frey to compete for the spot opposite Peanut.
With the way the game has evolved into a pass-happy league, the secondary is more important than ever. The Bears need to find the right combination of safeties early and stick with them. They need to lock in a corner to play opposite Charles Tillman while developing an heir to eventually take his place. Most importantly, they need to stay healthy. If they can do those things, the secondary can become a strength for this team. In the meantime, it’s a primary concern for me.
What do you think? How does the secondary line up in Week 1 vs the Colts? Can rookie Brandon Hardin finally be the answer at safety? Does Peanut Tillman stay healthy? Who plays opposite Tillman? Let’s hear your thoughts.