Adrian Amos knows what’s out there. Specifically, this:
Pro Football Focus’s grades ranked Amos as the third-best safety in the NFL last year, behind only the Vikings’ Harrison Smith and the Rams’ Lamarcus Joyner and ahead of big-name Pro Bowlers like the Seahawks’ Earl Thomas and the Giants’ Landon Collins. That's lofty territory for a guy who doesn't carry the same kind of star power as the other top safeties in the league.
So that leads us to this question: How does a player like Amos approach such a strong endorsement of his game from an evaluation made outside Halas Hall?
“I see it, but it’s like — it’s flattering that you graded out with some of the other safeties that are the top safeties in the league that you watch,” Amos said. “So it’s not saying — I don’t take it as saying I’m the second-best safety in the league, I take it as saying that I’m grading out as one. So I’m on my assignments, I’m making the plays I’m supposed to make when the ball is coming my way, I’m making the plays. So I take it as that.
“It doesn’t hurt my confidence, it doesn’t boost me all the way up or anything like that. I just take it with a grain of salt. It’s good to be held in high regard, so I’m glad that I am grading out well in any form. I want to grade out well every day here when Vic (Fangio) gives me my grade sheet or when Ed (Donatell) gives me my grade sheet, I want to grade out well in all ends and just keep improving.”
Pro Football Focus' grades are often dismissed by players not graded well by the service. But on the positive end of things, Amos appreciates the grade he received but puts more stock into how he's evaluated by Fangio and Donatell. And the Bears' front office personnel who will decide if he's worthy of a second contract — Amos will be a free agent after the 2018 season — carry, perhaps, the most important view of his play.
“I don’t evaluate any of those services,” defensive backs coach Ed Donatell said. “It’s always nice to be mentioned, but what I’m worried about is what he’s going to do with his skills on this day when I’m coaching him. Because that’s really all that matters. And we want him to play well so our team wins. I really can’t comment on those kind of things. Anytime somebody says something positive or brings something up, it’s nice, you get to take it in but keep perspective on where you are. We didn’t win enough games last year.”
While Amos appreciates the “secret superstar” plaudits, he’s also not blind to where he needs to improve and what he needs to do better following practices and games.
“I know with this scheme, I know when I’m right and wrong and I take the corrections by Vic,” Amos said. “I’m always listening to what (coaches are) saying. Them online, I don’t — it’s not like I’m listening to the online, but they consider this or that. But I take pride in making my plays when they come, how can I make more plays. I know Vic, with me, he’s stern in my eyes and my progression and little stuff that everybody else may not see but he’s big on me paying attention to those details and stuff like that. Just staying after that, making my plays and working to make more plays.”
Every single one of Amos’ 2,638 NFL snaps have come with Fangio as his defensive coordinator. But 2018 will be the first year Amos has stability among his teammates — he’ll have the same guy starting next to him at safety (Eddie Jackson) as well as the same cornerbacks (Prince Amukamara and Kyle Fuller). In front of him, Danny Trevathan is locked into a starting role and Nick Kwiatkoski looks likely to hold off Roquan Smith for at least a few weeks to begin the season. While Smith and Khalil Mack were major additions, there’s still a high degree of continuity here.
And that continuity is why Amos is confident he can put together an even better season in 2018.
“Every year I’ve had a new person that I was with, with linebackers and safeties and corners, for that matter,” Amos said. “So this is Year 2, per se, with us being together again. It’s just growing.”