If tonight’s contest between the Bears and Broncos counted in the standings, we’d probably be obsessing over Demaryius Thomas, the uber-talented receiver and Broncos’ big offensive threat.
After all, Thomas has posted five consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, making the Pro Bowl each time, and received a 81.3 grade from Pro Football Focus last year, which ranked 25th among qualifying receivers. In other words, Thomas is a handful on the field, whether he is getting 20 snaps in a regular season game or just a handful in a preseason tilt.
But because it doesn’t, we won’t be obsessing over Thomas today. Instead, we’ll use this matchup as an avenue to discuss what’s going on in the revamped Bears secondary.
The Bears’ radio team of Jeff Joniak and Tom Thayer break down the cornerback position, which Thayer believes was in desperate need of offseason change.
You can watch the video breakdown here, or embedded below:
GM Ryan Pace did what was expected in addressing the secondary by upgrading the talent and level of competition. Did the team do it in a way that was unexpected? Of course. What else would you expect?
Pace and the Bears rebounded after 1) being spurned by top-shelf free agents and 2) deciding to pass on the high-ceiling prospects in the first round, by bargain-hunting for players on short-term deals, eventually signing Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper to start at cornerback, as well as B.W. Webb to get in the mix as a reserve. This trio should push returning players such as Kyle Fuller, Cre’von LeBlanc, and Bryce Callahan en route to making depth a strength.
Depth has been lacking across the board for the Bears, but the 2017 team projects to have a number of serviceable options. The roster currently has five players who graded as average or better on Pro Football Focus’ grading scale – including two new starters. That number could be bumped up a notch if we include Fuller, who earned a 75.9 grade in 2015 – his last healthy season.
On paper, this secondary should be better than the group that ended the 2016 season on a sour note. If you’ll recall, only six teams allowed fewer passing yards, and only 10 other teams allowed fewer touchdown passes. But change was necessary after a season in which the Bears allowed opposing quarterbacks to post a 64.5 percent completion rate and 93.5 quarterback rating, both of which ranked among the NFL’s 10 worst.
So not only does this group look like it has improved its talent base, it has seemingly done so while adding the necessary depth to be competitive.