Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune reviews the Bears situation at safety:
“Both general manager Ryan Pace and coach John Fox were ecstatic to land 10-year veteran Antrel Rolle during free agency, adding talent and stability to the defense’s back end. Rolle’s best days may be behind him, but he’s still a three-time Pro Bowl selection with sharp instincts, versatility and the leadership ability to rally those around him.”
“By most accounts, this year’s draft class is ultra-thin at safety with very few sure bets at the top. That’s why it was critical for the Bears to make progress in free agency and why Rolle’s arrival has put Fox more at ease. ‘He understands the game,’ Fox said. ‘He plays the game fast. He understands how to prepare for NFL football games. I think that is contagious.’ “
Wiederer concludes that the need at safety is “moderate”. I’m going to have to disagree.
Its now clear that Ryan Mundy belongs at strong safety despite some rumblings when he was signed that he could play some free. He’s turned out to be a reasonably sure tackler and run stopped close to the line of scrimmage and as long as he’s kept in that role, he’s fine.
But Antrel Rolle is a different situation. In watching video of last season, to my eye Rolle definitely left something to be desired in coverage at free safety for the Giants. I was far less “ecstatic” than Fox and Pace apparently are that the Bears are apparently counting on Rolle this year. Frequently his instincts led him astray as he repeatedly took a step in the wrong direction and left himself out of position. And he’s definitely slowing down.
In fairness, Rolle played better late in the season than he did early. But I think there’s real cause for concern and the Bears need exhaust all avenues to look for more depth at the position sooner rather than laster. I know that the Bears are counting on Rolle to show some leadership with this team. But its awfully hard to do that if you can’t perform on the field yourself.