Bears

Adrian Amos is giving the Bears an amazing bang for their buck this year

Adrian Amos is giving the Bears an amazing bang for their buck this year

In terms of bang for their buck, the Bears have — at least, according to Pro Football Focus — the most valuable “cheap” player in the NFL. And he wasn’t even starting when the season began. 

That player is safety Adrian Amos, who Pro Football Focus rates as the second-best safety in the NFL. One-hundred and six safeties make more money than Amos, a fifth-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft whose cap hit is $673,070 this year, according to Spotrac. 

Even if you hold some skepticism for PFF’s grading system, Amos’ success this year has been clear. The 24-year-old is third on the Bears with 32 tackles, four tackles for a loss and three pass break-ups despite playing one defensive snap in Weeks 1 and 2. He forced and recovered a critical fumble against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday and had a 90-yard pick six against the Baltimore Ravens, but has been generally solid both in run support and against the pass since taking over for an injured Quintin Demps in September. 

“I think he’s on the proper path,” defensive backs coach Ed Donatell said. “He came back really focused in camp and working hard and he wasn’t starting at first but he was really in tune as a backup, and then he got his shot. His game, everybody can see it, it’s better in all areas.”

The Bears signed Demps to a three-year deal and used a fourth-round pick on Eddie Jackson earlier this year as part of the team’s efforts to overhaul a secondary that didn’t make enough plays in 2016. Amos was part of that takeaway problem last year, and before he picked off that pass in Baltimore, he had played about 2,000 career snaps without an interception. 

But credit should be given to Amos for, by all accounts, taking the right approach to losing his starting gig to Jackson and Demps. Not only has Amos ably replaced Demps in the Bears’ starting lineup, he might actually represent an upgrade alongside Jackson. 

“He’s a very prideful kid,” Donatell said. “He works hard and he wants to be a good pro. Safeties are pairs. Him and Eddie have blended together really well, they work together, they communicate. They have a good presence of each other, and that’s really important.”

Amos played every single defensive snap the Bears had in October, all while continuing to play on special teams (it was Amos who checked into Pat O’Donnell’s fake punt touchdown to Benny Cunningham Oct. 9 against the Minnesota Vikings). He hasn’t been satisfied with his performance — he pointed to some missed tackles he had against New Orleans, which he recognized were a problem and separate from the fumble he forced. 

“This past game, I feel like this wasn’t one of my best games, but I got a turnover, so it makes it look better from the outside-in,” Amos said. “But me, myself, I look at how I’m playing each and every day, am I making my tackles, making my adjustments, am I solid in my fits. Stats look good at the end of the day, but I try to look at where I can be better individually.”

Tarik Cohen was Bears' best offensive player vs. Rams

Tarik Cohen was Bears' best offensive player vs. Rams

The Chicago Bears offense was uninspiring once again Sunday night in the team's 17-7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. While they could've had another six points had kicker Eddy Pineiro connected on two early-game field goals, it still wouldn't have been enough to win the most important game of the season.

After 11 weeks (10 games), the Bears rank 28th in points per game with 16.9. To put their brutal season in perspective, the New York Jets, who've been atrocious this year, are averaging 16.4 points per game.

Essentially, Matt Nagy has coached Chicago's offense as effectively as Adam Gase has coached the Jets'. 

Still, it's worth acknowledging strong individual performances in the midst of an overall letdown, and in Week 11's loss to the Rams, it was running back Tarik Cohen who stood tallest among his Bears' offensive teammates.

Cohen posted Chicago's highest Pro Football Focus grade on offense with a 74.3. He logged 45 snaps, 10 more than David Montgomery, and was effective when he touched the ball. He totaled 74 yards and a touchdown on 14 touches en route to being the Bears' most effective running back against a tough Rams defensive front. Montgomery managed just 31 yards on 14 carries.

Cohen hasn't had the kind of season that was expected from his role as a do-it-all offensive weapon; he's way behind his normal pace of production as both a runner and receiver. Cohen had 99 carries for 444 yards and three touchdowns to go along with 71 catches for 725 yards and five scores in 2018. He's on pace for just 186 rushing yards and 402 receiving yards this season.

Still, Sunday night's effort was a step in the right direction for him and a sign that he may continue to get more touches as the season comes to a close.

Nagy took hard look at his duties as Bears offensive play-caller, opts to retain that role

Nagy took hard look at his duties as Bears offensive play-caller, opts to retain that role

During the Bears’ 17-7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, quarterback Mitch Trubisky suffered a hip pointer, an injury that involved monitoring by the coaching and medical staffs from halftime on. Kicker Eddy Pineiro was missing field goals to the point of appearing to affect his coach’s decision-making. The offense was sputtering – again – and the defense, after some early takeaway success, appeared to be sagging emotionally. There were issues at tight end. Aaron Donald had to be accounted for and blocked.

All of which and more was on the head of Matt Nagy, now all of 27 games into being an NFL head coach, and who late in the game needed to stop and have a heart-to-heart, heads-together talk with his quarterback about how he was feeling.

The “and more” on Nagy’s head continues to include calling the individual plays for his bad-and-getting-worse offense.

So Nagy spent a chunk of his morning taking a hard look at whether defenses are on to him, presumably personally as well as schematically. And some of that hard look was whether he indeed should continue being the play-caller in the wake of the offense running 74 plays, netting 7 points and failing to gain 300 total yards for the ninth time in 10 games.

For now, after that look in the mirror, Nagy will remain in control of the play sheet.

“What I would say is this,” he said, acknowledging that if he felt he was the problem, “I’ll be the first to tell you, then we need to be better or if there’s a rhythm to something.

“I have zero ego and I have zero care of giving play-call duties to somebody else. I really do not care about that, and if that’s what we feel like from going through it that that’s what we need to do, then I would do that, I really would.

“But when you go through the tape and you look at things and you know schematically where we’re at and what we’re calling and when we’re calling it…. There’s without a doubt a few plays in that game that I would go back and say, ‘You know what, that’s our fault. We didn’t scheme it right,’ and that starts with me. And I need to be able to accept that and know how do I fix that. But we’ll do everything we can … we’re turning over every stone to get this thing right.”

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