Adrian Amos

Projecting what holes the Bears will have to fill on their 2018 depth chart

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USA Today

Projecting what holes the Bears will have to fill on their 2018 depth chart

On Wednesday’s edition of the Under Center Podcast, John “Moon” Mullin and I broke down the Bears’ current depth chart, and which players on it will and won’t be back in 2018. 

The genesis of the pod, which you can listen to below, was with this color-coded depth chart:

 

Instead of a deep dive into each of these units, as we did on the podcast, this will more be a look at who those players are who are locked into roster spots in 2018. This should begin to paint a picture of where the Bears’ positions of need are heading into the offseason. 

OFFENSE
 
QB: Mitchell Trubisky
RB: Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen
FB: 
WR: Cameron Meredith, Kevin White
TE: Dion Sims, Adam Shaheen
LT: Charles Leno Jr.
LG: Josh Sitton, Eric Kush
C: Cody Whitehair
RG: Kyle Long, Eric Kush
RT: 

The first point to note with any of these projections is we don’t know what the Bears offense and defense will look like in 2018 with a potentially different coaching staff in place (i.e., if that coaching staff wants a fullback). 

The biggest need on this side of the ball, clearly, is wide receiver. Meredith and White are both coming off injuries (for White, three injuries in three years), and it’s fair to wonder if they can be as productive as the Bears expected them to be this season. 

The top five receivers currently scheduled to hit free agency are Davante Adams (744 yards, 7 TDs), Jarvis Landry (699 yards, 6 TDs), Marqise Lee (637, 3 TDs), Paul Richardson (592 yards, 5 TDs) and Sammy Watkins (528 yards, 6 TDs). Dontrelle Inman and Kendall Wright could play their way into contracts with the Bears in 2018 — both are due to hit free agency, too — with good play down the stretch. Inman, especially, has quickly developed chemistry with Trubisky since being acquired from the Los Angeles Chargers in October. 

The Bears could also potentially see an upgrade at right tackle, depending on how they’ve evaluated Bobby Massie’s season and his potential cap savings if he’s released ($5.6 million, according to Spotrac). There will be a need to add depth behind these starting linemen — though if Kush returns healthy from a training camp ACL injury, that would be a boost. 

Not all of these offensive players are "core" guys, but Trubisky, Howard, Cohen, Sitton, Whitehair and Long should fit that designation. 
 
DEFENSE

DE: Akiem Hicks, Jonathan Bullard
DT: Eddie Goldman
OLB: Leonard Floyd
ILB: Danny Trevathan, Nick Kwiatkoski
CB: 
S: Eddie Jackson, Adrian Amos

Whether the Bears’ 2018 defense is a 3-4 (as run by Vic Fangio) or a 4-3 (as run by a different defensive coordinator) remains to be seen, but these eight players would fit any scheme. 

The clear need is at cornerback, with Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara becoming free agents next year. Marcus Cooper hasn’t played up to his contract and would save the Bears $4.5 million in cap room if he were released (again, per Spotrac). Nickel corners Bryce Callahan (a restricted free agent) and Cre’von LeBlanc could be back, as could special teams ace Sherrick McManis (an unrestricted free agent). Finding an upgrade at this position is a definite “must-do” for the Bears’ offseason checklist.

But so is adding at least one go-to edge rusher, regardless of scheme fit. Pernell McPhee and Willie Young aren’t guaranteed to be back, given their relative lack of production (largely in McPhee’s case), their injury histories (in both players’ cases) or their age (in Young’s case). But if the Bears pencil in Hicks and Floyd as go-to pass-rushers in 2018, they still need a third. 

The good news is Jackson and Amos proved to be a solid safety duo in 2017, and that should carry over to 2018 (Quintin Demps could return, but perhaps as a backup). Goldman has been one of the Bears’ best defensive players this year and could be in line for a contract extension in the offseason. Trevathan is a rock on this defense, too, and is another player on whom a 2018 defense can be built. 

The "core" guys in this group: Hicks, Goldman, Trevathan and Floyd. 
 
SPECIAL TEAMS

PK: 
Punter: 
Long snapper: Andrew DePaola, Patrick Scales

Pat O’Donnell will be a free agent, while the Bears’ revolving door of kickers in 2017 isn’t likely to produce a long-term solution in 2018. 
 

Bears grades: Which units escape an 'F' after blowout loss in Philadelphia?

Bears grades: Which units escape an 'F' after blowout loss in Philadelphia?

QUARTERBACKS: F

Mitchell Trubisky completed 17 of 33 passes (51.5 percent), with some significant accuracy issues contributing to that poor completion percentage. He threw two interceptions and fumbled twice (though none of those fumbles were lost), and his 38.3 rating was a career low. “I didn’t play the game I set out to play or the game I’m capable of,” Trubisky said. The Bears averaged 2.9 yards per play, gained 140 total yards and had eight first downs on Sunday. And while the Eagles clearly have the better team, there’s not a curve for a last-place team facing a first-place team. 

RUNNING BACKS: F

The Eagles have one of the very best run defenses in the NFL, and Jordan Howard (seven carries, six yards), Tarik Cohen (two carries, -11 yards) and Benny Cunningham (one carry, minus-one yard) combined for 10 carries for minus-six yards, good for an average loss (not gain) of 0.6 yards per carry. On the bright side, Howard and Cohen each had two catches on two targets, but there was no way the Bears’ offense was going to have any success with its running backs averaging a loss every time they carried the ball. 

WIDE RECEIVERS: F

Dontrelle Inman caught four of his nine targets for 64 yards but had a couple of drops, while Tre McBride and Kendall Wright combined for four catches and 35 yards on 11 targets. Some of this had to do with Trubisky’s accuracy issues, but his receivers weren’t doing enough to make his Sunday easier. 

TIGHT ENDS: F

Adam Shaheen missed a run block early and only played 17 of the Bears’ 55 snaps, and caught his one target for one yard. Dion Sims returned from an illness and played 20 snaps, so it’s not like Sims was taking snaps away from Shaheen. Daniel Brown, though, played 30 snaps, which was more of a function of the Bears having to run their two-minute offense for most of the game. 

OFFENSIVE LINE: F

This group did do a halfway decent job protecting Trubisky (two sacks, five hurries) against an Eagles defense that was able to pin its ears back and do quite a bit of pass rushing against a Bears offense that had to pass quite a bit. But the six rushing yards the Bears managed are the second-lowest total in franchise history, and there’s no getting around that. 

DEFENSIVE LINE: D+

Akiem Hicks (two TFLs) and Eddie Goldman (four tackles, one hurry) both were solid at times, while Jonathan Bullard had his most disruptive game of the season (one sack, two hurries, one TFL). A depleted and ineffective linebacker corps was the bigger culprit for Philadelphia’s average of 5.3 yards per carry, but this unit didn’t have enough big, game-changing plays to prop up the rest of the defense. Worth noting: Hicks played 69.2 percent of the Bears' defensive snaps, with his only lower percentaged (69 percent) coming in that Week 2 blowout loss at Tampa. Hicks has been a workhorse on the defensive line this season, but given he was limited in practice last week, perhaps the Bears will manage his snaps a little more now that they won't be playing meaningful games in December. 

LINEBACKERS: D-

Pernell McPhee was largely invisible, only recording two sacks with no hurries, though Sam Acho had a solid game with four tackles and two hurries. Christian Jones had one pass break-up and five tackles, and Nick Kwiatkoski only had one tackle while playing 62.8 percent of the Bears’ snaps. Isaiah Irving recorded one tackle with no hurries or sacks in his first extended un in the Bears’ defense. This unit sorely missed Danny Trevathan and Leonard Floyd, to say the least. 

DEFENSIVE BACKS: D

There was a lot of bad from this group, with Eddie Jackson struggling against the pass and run and dropping an interception in the second half. Adrian Amos allowed Zach Ertz to burst free for a 17-yard touchdown in the first quarter, Philadelphia’s first of the game. Prince Amukamara committed two penalties, and Kyle Fuller had an uneven game, with the lowlight him falling down on a first down conversion to Alshon Jeffery in the first quarter. But give this group credit for Amukamara and Cre’Von LeBlanc both forcing fumbles (Amukamara was officially credited with it, though Amos, no pun intended, had a hand in it as well), while that pair each had two pass break-ups as well. And overall for the defense, no unit gets an "F" here because there were players from each unit (Goldman, Acho, LeBlanc in particular) who had decent games. It's harder to identify those guys on offense. 

SPECIAL TEAMS: F

Pat O’Donnell had some uncharacteristic struggles, with his first punt going only 34 yards to the Bears’ 44, which preceded the Eagles’ first touchdown of the game (he did rebound to have his next punt stick Philadelphia inside its own 10-yard line, and had a 58-yarder later in the game). Cairo Santos was put in a tough situation on his 54-yard field goal — his first field goal attempt since Week 3 and his subsequent groin injury — but did connect on a 38-yard field goal that ensured the Bears wouldn’t get shut out. Both Marcus Cooper and Jonathan Anderson were flagged for penalties on returns that led to the Bears starting first-half drives inside their own 10-yard line. 

COACHING: F

We’ll start here: About five and a half minutes into the second quarter, the Bears mistakenly began to send their punt team into the field on third down, then had to call timeout because only 10 men were on the field. Having Santos attempt that 54-yard field goal on fourth and four was a questionable decision — why not let Trubisky have a crack at converting a first down? The Bears were woefully undisciplined, and ended the first half with more penalty yards (36) than offensive yards (34). That the Eagles were actually the more heavily penalized team (11 for 70 yards for Philadelphia, nine for 56 for the Bears) doesn’t absolve this group, and in fact makes it look worse that the Bears managed to lose by four touchdowns against a talented, yet sloppy, opponent.

How Adrian Amos and Eddie Jackson have teamed up to solidify the Bears at safety

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USA TODAY

How Adrian Amos and Eddie Jackson have teamed up to solidify the Bears at safety

Games against divisional opponents inherently are ideal for measuring progress, with straight lines able to be drawn between Games 1 and 2 against the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions.

Sunday’s rematch with the Packers — who beat the Bears, 35-14, in Week 4 — will be scrutinized heavily for signs of progress, especially for an offense that has a different quarterback under center.

The absence of Aaron Rodgers muddies things a bit for the Bears’ defense, but Sunday will mark the sixth game of the Adrian Amos-Eddie Jackson safety pairing, with those players starting together for the first time at Lambeau Field in late September. And since that rough evening in Wisconsin, the pair of Ryan Pace draft picks (Amos was a fifth rounder, Jackson a fourth) has played well.

“The ability to play together, feeding off one another,” Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson said of the improvements Amos and Jackson have made. “I think they play well down in the box, they move well in the back end. Jackson had a big game a couple weeks ago with a pick and a fumble return, so guys that are always around the pile and ready to make a play when they get that opportunity.”

Both Jackson and Amos have pick-sixes and fumble recoveries this year, with Jackson’s going for a score against the Carolina Panthers. Amos is fourth on the Bears in tackles (35) and third in tackles for a loss (four) despite barely playing on defense until Quintin Demps’ suffered a broken arm Week 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Jackson is second on the team with four pass break-ups.

While both made some mistakes against the New Orleans Saints in Week 8, they’ve played at a high enough level together that the Bears haven’t missed Demps, the veteran and team captain who signed a three-year contract back in March.

“You have to have a trust factor there with your partner on the back end,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “I think those guys have it.”

Amos sort of struggled to explain the chemistry between he and Jackson, beyond saying “we just work well together.” That’s not a bad thing — it just works and makes sense for the pair, and that speaks to the natural fit between Amos, who’s strong in the box, and Jackson, who’s strong in coverage.

“He’s a better tackler than I am, so he’s more in the box than I am,” Jackson said. “I’m in the field, covering receivers most of the time. We just really try to balance it out.”

The Bears liked Demps’ experience next to Jackson to begin the year, but Amos has played over 2,000 snaps in Fangio’s system at this point, which has helped the pair mesh. The Bears seem to have found the right mix at safety, and potentially without a key defensive player (linebacker Danny Trevathan, who didn’t practice this week due to a calf injury) against a scuffling Green Bay offense, will need to keep trending in the right direction for continued defensive success on Sunday.

“Amos is a smart guy,” Jackson said. “He’s been around so long, if I’m confused on something, I can look at him and he’ll give me the check real quick. And if he has a blur in his mind, he can look at me and I’ll give him the check. So it’s just, you help each other out, you can be a crutch for one another.”