Bear CB Problems Getting Worse With No End In Sight
The Bears tried to convince everyone that everything was fine at the cornerback as they headed into this season with Jaylon Johnson as their only certainty after salary cap issues forced them to remove Kyle Fuller.
Now that their plan has exploded in a predictable way, the Bears are trying to turn it around, but it’s hard to argue with those dire results: touchdowns and second-highest passer rating.
Only coach Matt Nagy would have the audacity to defend this plan. General manager Ryan Pace could too, but he refuses to speak to the media during the season.
One of the Bears’ costliest mistakes was assuming sophomore cornerback Kindle Vildor was about to become an NFL starter. The reasons for this projection were not clear. Vildor was a fifth-round pick of Georgia Southern, the 19th selected player, and barely saw the field other than the special teams until the end of his rookie season.
It was quite a leap to mark him as the No.2 corner, and the opposing quarterbacks have feasted on him all season. Defensive coordinator Sean Desai’s breaking point was when Vildor was primarily responsible for a blown cover in the last minute that cost the Bears a game against the Ravens, and he’s played little since.
“We know that being a young man coming into this position there will be times when you get beaten up, and how do you react to that? Nagy said. “For most of the season he’s done pretty well.”
Incorrect. And that aversion to acknowledging reality by him and Pace is what got the Bears in this mess in the first place.
Vildor has been targeted 51 times and allowed 35 catches for 541 yards and five touchdowns, according to Pro Football Reference. That equates to a staggering 136.2 opposing passer rating, and on average throwing your way is worth 10.6 yards. He also committed six penalties.
Here are the other cornerbacks they leaned on:
–Artie Burns, a former Steelers draft that the Bears avoided playing even a single snap until he gave him a chance in place of Vildor in Week 12.
âMarqui Christian, a day one starter who struggled so hard he was benched for the next five games and has only played 30 defensive snaps since.
âXavier Crawford, who played defense in just two of the first 11 games and allowed two touchdowns in the loss to the Packers.
Christian and Crawford would almost certainly be relegated to practice teams if they were removed. That’s a safe bet considering that’s where the two were most of the time last season.
There was no wave of injuries that created this situation for the Bears. All of this could have been expected.
The only deviations from Pace’s original plan were Duke Shelley’s injury in Week 11 and the failure of the experiment to take a leaflet on Desmond Trufant.
Trufant arrived at 30 after an injury and helped almost 69% to finish the previous season. He’s been on two teams since and hasn’t played much. He wouldn’t have helped.
The cornerback’s situation has only gotten worse since his destruction by the Packers. Crawford is in concussion protocol and Burns is on the reserve / COVID-19 list.
Considering that they are already playing training level players, they run out of quality options. They signed former Chiefs seventh-round cornerback Thakarius “BoPete” Keyes, who went a month off an NFL roster before the Bears called.
The worst part of this problem? It won’t be easy to fix. The best way to fix that would be in the draft, but the Bears only have two picks in the first four rounds. As brutal as it has been to watch this season, it might not get better anytime soon.