With Allen Robinson as the Chicago Bears’ No. 1 wide receiver and Jordan Howard receiving a ton of attention in the backfield as the team’s lead back, tight end Trey Burton should receive an ample amount of opportunities to be a playmaker for quarterback Mitch Trubisky. However, there could be one minor hold-up here.
“Burton is getting a lot of push as a potential high-upside sleeper, yet he has only two green-rated strong safeties on his schedule and the Bears only have three games against opponents with a green-rated free or strong safety.”
Think of Joyner’s color-coded grading system like a stop light at an intersection. Green-rated safeties mean “go” … as in “go ahead and start this guy because it’s a favorable matchup.” According to Joyner’s grading scale, there aren’t too many of those favorable matchups in his future. And if we use Pro Football Focus’ coverage grades as a reference point, we’ll see that Joyner might be onto something.
Here’s a list of the safeties on Chicago’s opponents this season who checked in among PFF’s top-20 safeties in coverage grade):
- Lamarcus Joyner, Rams (92.2, t-1st)
- Harrison Smith, Vikings (92.2, t-1st)
- Jordan Poyer, Bills (91.9, 3rd)
- Earl Thomas, Seahawks (89.8, t-4th)
- Micah Hyde, Bills (89.8, t-4th)
- Tyvon Branch, Cardinals (89.2, 7th)
- Glover Quin, Lions (87.9, 8th)
- Andrew Sendejo, Vikings (86.8, 11th)
- Jaquiski Tartt, 49ers (86.5, 14th)
- John Jonson III, Rams (86.2, 15th)
- Bradley McDougald, Seahawks (85.9, t-17th)
- Antoine Bethea, Cardinals (85.9, t-17th)
- Landon Collins, Giants (85.5, 19th)
So while Joyner is analyzing this from a fantasy perspective, it’s clear that this particular nugget has some real, on-the-field importance. After all, that is a collection of safeties that features five sets of starters the Bears will face, including one tandem (Smith-Sendejo) the team will go up against twice. So, actually, yeah, this could be a problem for Burton and the Bears’ offense.
Burton and Trubisky will certainly have their work cut out for them, and the same can be said for Head Coach Matt Nagy and Offensive Coordinator Mark Helfrich. Because for the Bears to overcome this hurdle, the coaching duo of Nagy and Helfrich will need to be creative in order to get Burton the ball in a place where he can impact the game while limiting risk against some real ballhawks.