In today’s world of statistics and fantasy sports, the Bears' secondary has caught a bad rap.
I’m not going to say that the secondary is made up of world class cornerbacks and safeties, but I will defend them and say that they are a victim of circumstance.
When people look at the “main” statistic, they are going to see that the Bears were 30th in passing yards against, with an average of 241 yards per game they allowed through the air.
Now, with people getting too caught up in the stats, they are going to see that and think the Bears secondary was horrible at its job.
And, I will admit that there were some blown coverages, and some bad decisions made on their part, but the whole story needs to be viewed before everyone decides to jump down their throats and call them the third worst secondary in the NFL.
The Bears’ defense ranked fifth in rush defense, giving up only 93.5 yards per game, making opponents retreat from game plans revolving around the run. And, if you aren’t going to develop a game plan involving the run, that means you are left with one option, and that is the pass.
Since teams knew they couldn’t run on the Bears, they had to design more pass plays against them, which meant that the Bears’ secondary had to face more passing plays than most other teams.
In fact, the Bears’ defense saw the most pass plays against them out of the entire NFL. There were 622 passing plays against them, which came out to an average of 39 per game. Second place was San Diego, with 605.
They were the only two teams with more than 600 passing plays against them. So, with the Bears only ending up in 30th for passing yards allowed per game, I would say that is quite an accomplishment.
I will throw some other statistics at you that might shock you to know about last years secondary. They only gave up 21 passing touchdowns, which put them right in the middle of the league.
They were third in the NFL in interceptions, behind only Baltimore and Cleveland. And they led the league in pass deflections, with 105. But after seeing 622 passes, I would hope that you led the league in pass deflections.
For those who said they gave up too many big plays. They were, again, in the middle of the league, with allowing only 40 passing plays of 20 yards or more. And they were tied for second on the league, only allowing three passing plays of 40 yards or more. In comparison, Jacksonville allowed 17 passing plays of 40 yards or more.
And they did all this with one of the league’s worst pass rushes, which allowed the opposing quarterbacks ample amount of time to find open receivers.
Before you want to chastise the likes of Peanut Tillman, Nathan Vasher, Danieal Manning, Corey Graham, Craig Steltz, Kevin Payne, and whoever else may play in the Bears’ secondary this year, I advise you to learn the whole story. Statistics tell one story, but actual play tells another.
Even though I have spouted off all of these statistics, I still understand that the secondary is a major issue with the Bears. The 2009 season is one of the most hyped seasons I can remember in my short tenure on this Earth, and that is mostly to do with Jay Cutler coming over via trade.
And, rightfully so, Bears fans should be enthused about what he brings to the team, because in past years our quarterback play has been subpar. But, the offense can only do so much.
It is up to the defense to stop the other team from beating us. Jay Cutler knows all too well what a potent offense does for a team when the defense can’t stop anyone.
I think that the Bears’ secondary is a lot better than what people give them credit for, and I believe they are going to surprise a few teams this year with their play. I liked what I saw out of Kevin Payne last year, and think with that full season of experience under his belt, he is going to come up big at strong safety this year.
As of right now, I think Manning is the right choice to start next to him, at free safety, but believe Steltz is more than serviceable as his backup. Both of them are athletic and have decent speed, but they just need to find their rhythm inside the defensive schemes and everything will fall into place.
With Tillman being injured, we do have to worry about his conditioning for the start of the season, seeing as how he’s going to miss most of training camp, and part of the preseason.
But if he can come back healthy, and Vasher can stay healthy, as well, and revert back to his 2006 form, the Bears might have a chance at becoming one of the most feared defenses in the NFL again.
The biggest issue is health. Our depth at cornerback is an issue, with our backups not having much game experience in them. So, Bears fans just need to hope that the gods of football are going to shine down upon the team this season and keep everyone safe for the entire season.
What are your concerns about the secondary this upcoming season?