One of the reasons a site like Pro Football Focus might be higher on the Chicago Bears in 2017 is because of a player like Quintin Demps, who turns 32 today:
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) June 29, 2017
Demps wasn’t the biggest name in the safety market during free agency, but he is coming off a stellar two-year stint with the Houston Texans.
Last season, Demps was Pro Football Focus’ 12th best safety in a very well-rounded season. PFF gave him the 14th best coverage grade and 16th run defense grade. No matter which way you slice it, Demps was one of the best safeties in football. It’s tough to imagine Demps being that good again in his age 32 season, but Bears will need him to stabilize a secondary that struggled throughout the 2016 season.
- Staying on the defensive side of the ball, one man who can make Demps’ job easier in the secondary is outside linebacker Leonard Floyd. The Bears’ front seven could dictate the action this year if it lives up to the lofty expectations they have set up for themselves, and Floyd will be a major part of it. Over at CSN Chicago, JJ Stankevitz writes that the Bears like what they’ve seen out of Floyd, whose breakout season could be on the horizon. It’s easy to dream on Floyd’s seven sacks in 12 games, but concussion and other injury concerns will loom overhead until they are no longer a problem. Which is to say, they might not never be a problem. A healthy Floyd is arguably the most important part of the Bears’ defense, and I would love to see how many quarterbacks he can bring down in a healthy 16-game season.
- A healthy and productive season from Floyd could also ease the transition of another Bears’ new addition in the secondary. Chris Emma of CBS Sports writes that cornerback Prince Amukamara is out to prove himself again – this time with the Bears. This is the second straight season in which Amukamara will play on a one-year “prove it” deal. Things didn’t go too poorly for Amukamara with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2016, a season in which he played 873 snaps and earned a 76.6 grade from Pro Football Focus that ranked him 41st among 111 qualifying cornerbacks.
- Using PFF’s grades as our guide, Amukamara would’ve been the highest-graded corner on the Bears last season. Amukamara has stated he doesn’t want to bounce from team-to-team at this point of his career, hoping to settle into a steady home in someone’s secondary. That could still be the Bears if they like what they see out of Amukamara in 2017. He turned 28 on June 6 and could still have some prime years left. Granted, he hasn’t played a full 16-game schedule since 2013 – which was the only season he has done so – but 2017 could be a springboard for better things in Amukamara’s future.
- Victor Cruz, who played with Amukamara while with the New York Giants, also has much to prove this season. Cruz seems plenty motivated after signing with the Bears, telling ESPN New York’s Jordan Raanan that he has a lot to prove because “You’re only as good as your last catch, your last game, your last year of production.” Cruz caught 39 passes, gained 586 yards, scored just one touchdown in his final season with the Giants. He hasn’t produced at a high level since 2013, a season in which he came two yards short of his third straight 1,000-yard season, so you know he’d like to get back to being that kind of player again. As it stands, Cruz could end up taking on a leadership role in 2017, but head coach John Fox thinks the former Pro Bowl receiver has more in the tank and can offer more than some sage veteran advice.
- NFL Network senior analyst Gil Brandt sees some future head coaches among some of the active players currently on NFL rosters. Among them is old friend Josh McCown, the New York Jets starting quarterback who could find himself being a father figure for a rebuilding team that is loaded with young, inexperienced players. I could argue that this could give McCown a leg up on that future job as a coach, but it’s worth noting he was coaching in high school before the Bears pulled him off the scrap heap a few years ago. In the end, he’ll coach when he finally hangs them up.
- It’s worth noting that the season in which Charles “Peanut” Tillman was targeted 124 times, he came up with three interceptions (including a pick-six), 17 passes defended, and four forced fumbles:
Quarterbacks didn't shy away from Marcus Peters as a rookie
They wised up last year though pic.twitter.com/o9obENo09S
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 29, 2017