Chicago Bears: Time to Bench CB Kyle Fuller?


Entering this season, Kyle Fuller was supposed to be the clear number one option for the Chicago Bears at the cornerback position. While the position was not exactly loaded with proven talent, Fuller’s first-round pedigree was supposed to help carry the Bears in coverage against opposing receivers. He was legitimately expected to cover the opposing team’s number one option in the passing game.

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Two weeks in, and Fuller does not look anything close to a legitimate number one cornerback. In fact, head coach John Fox sent Fuller to the bench late in the Bears’ Week 2 match-up against the Arizona Cardinals. With the rest of the starters primarily on the field, Fuller was singled out and replaced by 2014 seventh-round pick Terrance Mitchell.

Fuller was picked apart by Carson Palmer and the Cardinals’ passing attack all afternoon. He was primarily matched-up on wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald throughout the game, and Fitzgerald had himself a huge game with eight receptions for 112 yards and three touchdowns. Fuller was not responsible for all of that, but he is for a majority of it, including the first two touchdowns.

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On top of his struggles against Fitzgerald, Fuller committed an awful penalty early in the game. With the Bears and Cardinals still tied 7-7 in the first half, Palmer sent one deep to speedy wide receiver John Brown.

Fuller did not have terrible coverage on the play, but instead of attacking the ball, he swiped down directly across Brown’s arms. This was an obvious pass interference call for the referee that resulted in a 42-yard penalty and led to the Cardinals’ touchdown.

All of this, and Fuller is benched late in the game. It is hard to believe that the coaching staff has much confidence in him right now. Fox was non-committal about Fuller’s status after the game, saying that they were “Still evaluating” the position, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.

Fox was a huge fan of Fuller this off season, singling him out as a player the Bears were confident in many different times. “Still evaluating a guy they singled out as a building block?,” Biggs asks, “That’s a step back.”

A step back indeed, as Fuller clearly does not appear to be the player who the Bears expected him to be heading into this season. Of course, it is not all his fault. The Bears have not been able to produce any sort of pass rush in the early going, being one of only three teams (including the Indianapolis Colts who play their second game on Monday night) who have yet to produce a sack on the season.

Singling out Fuller is easy because he has obviously struggled in coverage. That being said, the lack of pass rush is hurting the entire defense, and must be fixed if this team expects to be able to stop anybody.

On top of that, Fuller is not the only player at the cornerback position who is struggling. Fellow starter Alan Ball has not looked impressive either, and Mitchell was picked on by Palmer as well when he entered the game. Perhaps it is time to give slot cornerback Sherrick McMannis more of a chance? Maybe Bryce Callahan? Honestly though, could the Bears expect anything better out of them?

Simply put, the Bears are not flush with enticing options at the cornerback position. That being said, they need to find a way to cover receivers more consistently. Fuller has been terrible, but it is not like the other players have much of a chance to do better.

As we sit here right now, I think the Bears should continue to start Fuller. He is still the most talented cornerback they have, and he clearly has the most upside. The Bears just need to accept that they are going to struggle at the position, and do a better job of giving their cornerbacks some help. Fuller still has plenty of talent and upside, and it is way too early to give up on him.

However, he should be put on notice with that fourth quarter benching. Consistently giving up plays like that in the passing game is unacceptable, and the Bears will find a better option if they have to. Unfortunately, that better option does not currently exist on the roster, so the Bears have little choice but to play Fuller.

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