By Rikki Greenberg
The Bears have problems.
So many that it’s depressing to go into, but TSB informs no matter how disheartening the story may be. One of the problems the Bears face is a depleted and weak secondary. Every opponent the Bears defense faced this season knew they had a decent chance of putting up big numbers because the secondary failed to stop many of the people.
Looking at the Bears defensive league ranks last season is enough to make you stock up on the Kleenex for next season. The defense finished 30th against the pass (allowing 241.2 yards per game) and 23rd in first downs (314) allowed. Before your Mike Brown jersey becomes Fido’s next chew toy, I come with some good off season news. It’s rumored that the Chicago Bears are considering Oakland Raiders star cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who is up for free agency should he escape the franchise tag contract that he signed in 2008. If Asomugha escapes the tag again this year, he would be a fantastic addition to the Bears roster for the following reasons:
1) Decreased missed tackles
Numerous times throughout 08 (Tampa Bay week 3, Minnesota week 7, Houston week 17 to name a few) the Bears secondary had plenty of missed tackles. Many times we saw an opposing player get taken down 10-15 yards later then they should have. Of course, the cover 2 scheme is another reason for missed tackles in some situations. However, for this scheme Asomugha would be extremely valuable because he’s aggressive enough to go after the ball carrier and take him to the ground without the help of a second teammate. The Bears need that kind of added muscle in the secondary.
2) Better coverage
The Bears secondary also had a nasty little habit of leaving a ridiculous amount of space between them and the opposing players. This becomes particularly destructive when an offensive threat such as Saints wide receiver Marques Colston can capitalize on this open opportunity with a 22 yard pass completion and a new set of downs for the Saints in the fourth quarter during Week 15 of the regular season. Former Bears wide receiver Bernard Berrian and his 99-yard touchdown pass during Week 13 of the regular season is another example of what happens when a big-play receiver is left wide open.
If Asomugha were to suit up in a Bears uniform next season, he could help alleviate some of these space issues in the Bears secondary because of his recovery speed and closing speed. The first time 2009 Pro Bowl starter could teach other Bears defensive backs some things about decreasing space and increasing contact, if Lovie manipulates the scheme to let him.
The Bears secondary finished the season with veteran cornerback Nathan Vasher rookie Zackary Bowman and starting safety Mike Brown (is there ever a season, he’s not injured?) on the IR list. As a result, the Bears are in desperate need of an athletic, healthy cornerback to fill the holes in the secondary. The scrappy, fearless playing style of Asomugha is exactly what the Bears need, especially since Brown isn’t going to be available for the 2009 season. With Asomugha on the depth chart, the core of defensive backs will get a boost of leadership, experience and talent. Even though Asomugha only has an extra year of experience in comparison to Bears second season cornerbacks Corey Graham, Trumain McBride and Marcus Hamilton, he’s years ahead in football knowledge and skill.