Bears

Bears secondary ranked as one of league's most underrated position groups

Bears secondary ranked as one of league's most underrated position groups

Chicago Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller had a breakout season in 2017. It was a prove-it year for the former first-round pick, and he delivered in a big way. He parlayed his career-best season into a four-year, $56 million deal and is now considered one of the NFL's top corners.

He's not the only high-end performer in Chicago's secondary, however. Safeties Adrian Amos and Eddie Jackson arrived as one of the league's top young safety tandems, and veteran Prince Amukamara did enough opposite Fuller to receive a multi-year deal this offseason.

Entering 2018, the Bears may have one of the most overlooked secondaries in the NFL. In fact, that's exactly what The Ringer's Danny Kelly declared in a recent story about the NFL's most unheralded position groups.

"Most of the hype around the Bears’ eventful offseason has focused on the team’s new head coach, Matt Nagy, its offensive skill-position reboot (headlined by the signing of Allen Robinson), and the potential growth of second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky," Kelly wrote. "But don’t lose sight of what the team did to keep its burgeoning secondary intact."

The biggest challenge facing the Bears' defensive backs is the fact they'll be challenged by three top-tier quarterbacks in the NFC North. Aaron Rodgers is a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer while Kirk Cousins and Matthew Stafford are perennial Pro Bowlers. Fuller, Amukamara and the rest of the starters will need a big assist from Leonard Floyd and the pass rush.

The Bears are going to need to get more from their pass rush next year, and the team’s defensive backs will simply have to make more plays on the ball after intercepting just eight passes all of last year (tied for 29th). But Chicago’s unheralded secondary unit looks poised for more recognition in 2018.

Fuller proved last season that he's a true lockdown defender. He recorded two interceptions and a career-high 17 passes defended. He set a new career-best in tackles, too, with 66. His 84.3 grade from Pro Football Focus ranked 21st among cornerbacks and was yet another career watermark.

Assuming Fuller stays healthy and has another top-tier season, and the young safeties develop as expected, the Bears' secondary has as good of a chance as any to be considered one of the elite position units in the NFL by season's end.

Under Center Podcast: Ha Ha, Bears a great fit for Clinton-Dix

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: Ha Ha, Bears a great fit for Clinton-Dix

It's been a almost a week since the Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix signing and it's still looking like a total win for the Bears. JJ Stankevitz, Cam Ellis and Paul Aspan on why the Bears appear to have gotten a bargain (1:00) , how Dix could be the perfect fit for this defense at this time, and the chemistry he'll have with former 'Bama teammate Eddie Jackson. Plus probably too much punter talk after the Bears bring back Pat O'Donnell (9:30), and some more edge rusher possibilities in the next wave of free agency (14:00). And of course an update on the Chicago Football Madness as 7-seed Alex Brown makes a desperate attempt to launch a comeback and avoid an upset against 10-seed Robbie Gould (22:10)

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

NBC's Chris Simms has Bears as #1 seed in NFC bracket

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USA Today

NBC's Chris Simms has Bears as #1 seed in NFC bracket

It's Bracket SZN. 

There are so many fun brackets to choose from right now. There's your standard NCAA bracket, our Chicago Football Madness bracket, and apparently NFC brackets? 

Chris Simms is doing them, at least, and the good news is that it's an excuse to write that someone thinks the Bears will be good! 

And just for good measure, here's Simms talking with Bears fan and fellow NBC analyst Roger Bennett: