How did Kevin Toliver fare in his first start with the Chicago Bears?
While the injury to Prince Amukamara is never a good thing, there was some silver lining in that it was not serious, the bye week was the following week, and we got to see UDFA Kevin Toliver.
Toliver was the hype of this UDFA class hailing from LSU as a prized prospect. However, issues have taken him down a different path. Still, he seemed to have gotten himself together and made the roster out of camp.
After watching every pass attempt in this game, here are the notes of how Kevin Toliver played.
With two receivers bunched on Toliver’s side, he is playing well off of the ball, while Bryce Callahan is pressing near both. This was the Bucs first pass of the game. They were planning a screen. The inside receiver was supposed to block Callahan and Toliver was going to have to make a tackle one-on-one in space to start his game. However, Callahan blew the play up and made the stop in the backfield.
The next play was a direct target to him against Mike Evans. Evans was running a post route. It is worth mentioning at this point that Toliver was playing into the general philosophy of the bend but don’t break scheme that Vic Fangio employs.
With that in mind his ability to stay square and keep Evans in front of him was solid. Evans broke inside with a bit of space, thanks to that cushion, but the pass was a bit behind him, incomplete.
This was not a target to Toliver, but a learning moment worth pointing out. The Bucs lined O.J. Howard out wide. Danny Trevathan went out to follow him. Toliver was not sure where to line up with the motion, and Toliver and Bryce Callahan had to keep him in line. This is not a huge issue, and he got set before the snap.
Now, Toliver finds himself matched up with Howard in the end zone. Toliver again is keeping the man in front of him. From there, you see his athleticism in his break to knock the pass away. The play is linked here. It was a nice break by Toliver to close all of the space in a fast manner.
While Toliver had typically done a good job of staying square, on this play, he waited too long to turn his hips. He was lined up on Mike Evans, who has done a better job of selling routes this season. However, he was able to get even with Toliver before Toliver was able to turn around and it was tough sledding from there. The play is linked here. Fitzpatrick missed the throw, and Toliver avoided the tough matchup costing him.
Lined up against Desean Jackson, with the Bucs behind the sticks, Toliver was playing off coverage. In an attempt to make up some ground, Jackson broke off a curl route for 11 yards with Toliver making the play for no yards after the catch.
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Toliver got a real dose of what NFL speed can look like. Toliver was giving Desean Jackson a huge cushion and was backpedaling as Jackson worked up the field. However, in zone, Toliver kept his eyes in the backfield just a bit too long. Before he knew it, Desean Jackson breezed by him for 42 yards. Toliver recovered well, but it was certainly his first welcome to the NFL moment.
This was another play with the Bucs behind the sticks and Toliver giving a lot of cushion. He gave up a quick slant for four yards but made the tackle for no yards after the catch.
Toliver was not targeted here but is lucky he was not. Desean Jackson was able to turn him around and got a lot of separation deep down the field. In the clip here, you can see Desean Jackson sell the post just enough to open Toliver up. Once he was open, he tried to spin himself around.
While the pressure of the Bears forced a much shorter pass, check out the shot of what could have been. This is why you trade for a pass rusher.
Kevin Toliver is matched up with Mike Evans. Once again, he does a good job of staying square with Evans and keeping Evans in front of him. However, in the bend but don’t break he did give up a 12-yard comeback. Still, it resulted in zero yards after the catch.