How Well is Adrian Amos Really Playing?

Adrian Amos

Adrian Amos

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions. Here he addresses the strengths and weakness in the play of rookie safety Adrian Amos:

“The next progression in his game will be to begin making impact plays and get his hands on balls and show the range in the middle of the field, the trait you are really looking for from a free safety against the passing offenses in the NFL right now. But as I see it, Amos is doing everything they are asking him to.

“As far as the grades he receives from PFF, those are evaluations done watching television copies of the game. You can watch 10 plays without seeing Amos really be around any play because of the tight camera angles to the ball, especially in a game like the Bears had against the Chiefs, who had a lateral passing game or one that is short to very intermediate.”

This is essentially my complaint about PFF. They do their best but there are limitations and I wouldn’t take these grades too seriously.

One thing I’ll emphasize that is related to Biggs’ comment. Though the camera often won’t show where a free safety goes over the course of an entire play, you should be seeing him under some circumstances. This is particularly true of passes along the side line where safeties with good range come in near the end of the play over the top to assist a cornerback in breaking up the connection. I never see Amos doing this and I consider it to be a bad sign. In fairness, as Biggs implies, it’s possible that they aren’t asking him to help out under these circumstances – I won’t claim to know his assignments. But I am worried that he may lack the range to make plays on the ball.

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Lovie Smith: Not in Trouble in Tampa Bay. But He Should Be.

Rick Stroud at the Tampa Bay Times writes about whether former Bears head coach Lovie Smith is on the hot seat there:

“Contrary to what a few fans may believe, Smith’s coaching seat isn’t getting warm. Not even tepid.

“Why? When you take a quarterback No. 1 overall in the draft and plan to play him right away, you commit to the process as an organization, which is what the Bucs have done.”

“Smith is not blameless. He and general manager Jason Licht have made their share of mistakes in free agency. Some positions in the secondary and on the defensive line still are a revolving door. Any time Smith says the Bucs are 1-3, fans counter that they are 3-17 under Smith.”

Smith is entirely to blame. He’s has been put in charge and is ultimately responsible for all of the personnel decisions that are made in Tampa Bay, something that I pointed out was a grave error when they hired him. Smith is a pretty good head coach. But it’s not a co-incidence that the Bears drafts began to go more and more downhill as he gained more and more influence in the organization.

Despite winning his first ever home game in Tampa Bay on Sunday, Stroud says that Smith isn’t in trouble with ownership because they’re playing with a rookie quarterback and that’s fair enough. But the Tampa Bay problems are also on defense where they are last in the league with 148 points allowed over 5 games. That’s supposed to be Smith’s specialty and most Bears fans know he’s pretty good at it. But his insistence in meddling with player personnel is keeping that side of the ball unsettled. And it may not get better.

In many ways Smith is lucky. Having Jameis Winston is a built in excuse that will buy him time despite poor performance in other areas of his job. But he’s in over his head in Tampa Bay and unless they hire a real general manager with real power over personnel, its likely to stay that way.

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Bears Riding a Streak with Jay Cutler

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune on the play of quarterback Jay Cutler:

“I think the best thing about Jay Cutler’s game in this early part of the season has been his pocket presence. He hasn’t been rattled and plays haven’t fallen apart when he’s been pressured. In fact, he’s created extra time for receivers to come free from their man or find a soft spot in the zone on many occasions in pretty much every game. You saw it on multiple occasions here where he moved around in the pocket or stepped up in the pocket to make a connection.”

He’s right. Cutler is doing an excellent job of moving in the pocket, the sign of a mature quarterback who is in a groove. I’ve also noticed that Cutler is starting to throw the ball with just a bit of anticipation to receivers coming out of their breaks, something that’s absolutely necessary with the receiving corp that he’s dealing with.

As Biggs notes, Cutler’s statistics aren’t dazzling and there’s a reason for that, He’s been very inconsistent, pulling some wonderful throws out of his hat, then following them with head scratchingly inaccurate passes. Last Sunday provided a good example as Cutler dropped a wonderful 33 yard bomb to Marquess Wilson for a touchdown, then followed it with a pass at Matt Forte‘s feet on the two point conversion attempt.

Nevertheless, even Cutler’s harshest critics – and I consider myself to be one – would have to acknowledge it. Cutler is on a roll.

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Finding Playing Time for Willie Young

willie-young-nfl-chicago-bears-detroit-lions-850x560As Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune reviews the film from Sunday’s game, he notes the perfomance of “linebacker” Willie Young. Young “had a sack and another strong rush”. Young had 20 snaps on Sunday, playing mostly opposite Pernell McPhee and to my eye, after McPhee, he looked like the strongest pass rusher out there.

Young reportedly asked for a trade after Jared Allen was traded to Carolina. Allen was struggling in the system and Young obviously see himself in the same boat. The difference is that Young has been and is more effective as a pass rusher than the 33 year old Allen. Young is also fighting for playing time with Lamarr Houston (who also had a sack Sunday) and Sam Acho, who probably is the best all around linebacker of the three but who has the worst pass rush skills of the three.

I strongly suspect that the Bears are hesitant to give Young more playing time because of his weakness in pass coverage as a linebacker. But they need to find a way to do it, both to keep him happy and to keep pressure on the quarterback. Perhaps the solution is to play him strictly in nickel situations where the defense plays more of a 4-3 front. If they do that, they need to give him every snap they can.

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Quick Comments: Bears at Chiefs 10/11/15


  1. As had been their habit, the Bears came out in a double tight end set. They continued to run the ball on first down but limited success forced the to pass predominantly on the other downs.
  2. The Bears relied heavily on wide receiver screens and quick throws to the outside. Otherwise they stuck to short throws and the running game. It’s possible that they didn’t trust the offensive line to protect Jay Cutler.
  3. The offensive line was under siege in pass protection. They did a little better in blocking the run but overall it wasn’t a good day for the unit.
  4. Having said that, I thought Kyle Long generally held his own. Long’s getting better every game. Neither Long nor Charles Leno got much chip help from the tight ends.
  5. Rookie center Hroniss Grasu got blown up on a sack that turned into a touchdown as Jay Cutler fumbled in the end zone. The knock on Grasu is that he’s undersized and needs a year in the weight room. He was just plain overpowered on the play. He also was frequently pushed into the backfield when run blocking, as well. The Chiefs tried to confuse the Grasu and offense by crowding the line with a fair bit of blitzing. I’d say it was success. Grasu had a rough day.
  6. Speaking of the blitz, the Chiefs were apparently doing a good job of taking away Cutler’s hot receiver when the they brought the house. Cutler apparently had nowhere to go with the ball.
  7. To Adam Gase’s credit, it didn’t take long for him to counter the Chief’s blitzes, especially on third down. He went to the screen pass as soon as it became apparent that was the plan.
  8. The Bears did a good job juggling snaps between the three running backs. It seemed like everyone got their carries.
  9. Cutler was up and down. Sometimes he makes some wonderful throws, as he did on a 33 yard pass to Marquess Wilson near the end of the third quarter and on another 22 yarder to Wilson for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Otherwise, though, he had a rough game accuracy-wise with a fair number of passes that left me shaking my head. Once again, I certainly can’t complain with the two minute drive to win the game.
  10. Martellus Bennett had a tough game. The Chiefs did a good job of playing tight coverage on him and limiting his effectiveness as Cutler’s only really good receiving option outside of Matt Forte.
  11. I thought the pass interference penalty that set up the game winning TD pass was a good call as Kansas City cornerback Marcus Peters turned late and didn’t make a play on the ball.  But I admit it was questionable.


  1. The Bears played a great deal of nickel today, especially in the first half. You have to wonder if the injury to safety Antrel Rolle had something to do with that. Things changed in the second half as they started pounding the Bears with the run and the Bears went more with their base 3-4.
  2. Kansas City relied heavily on the short passing game as is their habit. The Bears countered by running more zone defense than usual, presumably to limit the run after the catch.
  3. I spent a good part of the first half wondering why the Chiefs weren’t handing the ball off to Jamaal Charles more, especially given the fact that is a standard way to beat the kind of nickel zone defense the Bears were running. They finally tried to get him going in the second quarter and he did well until leaving with an injury in the third.
  4. Very interesting to watch Charles run. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a runner who is better at pressing the hole and using his blockers.
  5. Smith got rid of the ball fast but the few times he held the ball the Bears got some pressure on him over a much maligned Kansas City offensive line. They didn’t resort much to the blitz.
  6. Tracy Porter pretty much gave up the second Kansas City touchdown himself by aggressively attacking De’Anthony Thomas to the inside. Thomas ran to the outside and there was no one out there to stop him. It was one of a number of missed tackles and bad angles taken by the Bears defense over the course of the day.
  7. Kansas City has made a living attacking the middle of the field against other teams and they did a fair job of taking advantage of Shea McClellin today. But they seemed to like passing the ball out to the edge better today. It’s possible that they were targeting the Bears lack of speed on defense.
  8. Kansas City also tried to target nickel back Sherrick McManis by putting Jeremy Maclin in the slot. It was successful as Maclin had a pretty good day (8 catches, 85 yards) up until he bobbled the ball with 2 seconds left in the game to turn a 57 yard field goal into a 66 yard attempt.
  9. I thought Willie Young came on to show some people what he could do today. The Bears have gotten very little in pass rush from the linebacker position on the other side of Pernell McPhee and I’m wondering if we might not see more of him in the future.


  1. Sam Rosen isn’t the best play-by-play man to have for an NFL game. John Lynch did a surprisingly good job with what I thought were some insightful comments. Pam Oliver was her usual self – which is fine.
  2. One again, the punt return team had a holding penalty in the first quarter. That’s become a problematic habit. The Kansas City punt return team took their turn with a block in the back in the second quarter.
  3. Far too many penalties again for the Bears as they had 6 for 49 yards with much of that coming in the first half. Zack Miller had a false start. So did Charles Leno. Leno also had a hands to the face call. Martellus Bennett had a hold. Sherrick McManis got caught holding Jeremy Maclin in the second quarter. There was a critical face mask penalty on the kick coverage team with 11 seconds left in the game.
  4. Too many drops for a team that can’t afford to have any. Martellus Bennett was responsible for a lot of them including a critical one on the last drive in the fourth quarter. Kansas City also had their share of problems with drops. Jeremy Maclin had one. Jamaal Charles had another.
  5. As far as turnovers go, they don’t get much worse than the Cutler fumble in the endzone to give up the touchdown. I’d say that got the Chiefs going and set the tone as much as anything. To their credit, neither team had any more.
  6. This was a nice win for the Bears and their improving defense.  Its said that this is a coaches league.  The Bears are showing themselves to be well coached as they overcame a big talent deficit to pull this one out.
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The Situation in St. Louis Is Smelling Very Bad

Mike Florio at informs us of a potential disaster in St. Louis near Rams Park as there is an underground fire smoldering in one landfill very close to another landfill which contains radioactive waste:

“Via the Chicago Tribune, a disaster plan discovered this week by KMOX radio in St. Louis, the possibility exists for the release of a smoke plume containing radioactive fallout — and it would ‘most likely occur with little or no advance warning.'”

“The fire is happening at the Bridgeton Landfill. Which sits next to theWest Lake Landfill. Which contains radioactive waste from uranium processing.

“Bridgeton Landfill has become notorious for its pungent odor. As someone who has been to Rams Park in recent years tells PFT, when the wind is blowing toward the team’s facility, the odor is ‘unbearable.’ It’s believed that the Rams check to see whether it’s a downwind-from-the-stink day before bringing free agents to Rams Park. (If they don’t already do that, they probably should.)”

For heaven’s sake, no wonder Rams owner Stan Kroenke can’t wait to get out of the St. Louis. They’re at the intersection of a landfill with a terrible odor and a radioactive waste dump!

St. Louis really blew this. They could have renovated their stadium as called for by their contract with the Rams years ago. Instead they chose to fight it and then, after they were ordered by a court to do it, still refused. Now they’ve taken an awful situation and made it unbearable. I can’t imagine that the Rams aren’t one of the teams that ends up in Los Angeles as soon as next year.

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Terrell Owens Still Crazy After All These Years

Mike Florio at quotes 41 yer old former wide receiver Terrell Owens as he claims that he could still play for the Eagles:

“‘You think that I shouldn’t be playing right now?’ Owens said on the same day his Football Life documentary debuted on NFL Network. ‘I definitely could be playing right now, but based on my character — yeah, people can say, ‘Oh he’s 41.”

“It sounds like Owens wanted to once again claim that the NFL’s lack of interest comes from media-fueled concerns regarding his disruptive locker-room behavior. But he was wise not to shine a light on that topic, what with the voters (all of whom belong to the media) poised to give him a bronze bust in early February.”

“He has a point, and with quarterback Matthew Hasselbeck getting it done at the age of 40, it’s hard not to wonder why someone wouldn’t give Owens a chance. He undoubtedly has grown and matured in five years of not playing, and he’d surely be grateful for getting one last opportunity to play.”

A) Wide receivers are not quarterbacks. B) Even if they were, there’s no way that, after head coach Chip Kelly spent the entire offseason getting rid of the divas on that team, he’s going to invite a locker room disruption like Owens into the mix now.

I understand that it’s hard ot accept. But its time for Owens to accept the fact that on the wrong side of 40, he simply isn’t worth the problems he brings. It’s time ot let it go and enjoy retirement.

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Adrian Amos: Pretty Good. Maybe.

Adrian Amos

Adrian Amos

Hub Arkush‘s thoughts at on safety Adrian Amos mirror my own:

“To start every game your rookie year as a fifth-round draft choice is exceptional in and of itself. That Amos has blended right in and rarely been visible – meaning he is at least doing his job well – is remarkable.”

“Understand that the Bears’ problems at safety over the last seven or eight years have been that the safeties have been the most obvious players on the field, too often getting burned on big plays.

“It’s too early to know if Amos is going to be more than an average guy who won’t kill you or a good football player, but if you think about it, how often have you seen him burned at all?”

I can’t think of a single time. And that’s good.

There’s only one thing that bothers me about Amos. Presumably he’s supposed to be helping the cornerbacks in coverage. Yes, you neer want to notice the safety because usually when you do, it’s because he’s blown a tackle or was out of position on a play. But this is a part of the game where you should notice the safety – coming over the top at the last minute as a cornerback covers a good receiver near the side line. Yet, I’ve rarely noticed Amos on these plays and it often looks like its just the cornerback on an island on these plays.  I’m wondering how much help Amos has been in coverage under those circumstances.

Amos is a developing situation that I think all of us will continue to keep an eye on. But, with that one caveat, so far so good.

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Chiefs Tight Ends Are Dangerous but the Key to the Game is Still the Offensive Line

Steve Rosenbloom at the Chicago Tribune previews the Bears game against the Chiefs:

“Tight end Travis Kelce has 21 catches for 293 yards and two TDs in the first four games. He also leads NFL tight ends in yards after the catch. He’s Rob Gronkowski with fewer viral videos.

“[Shea] McClellin, the wrong linebacker chosen by the wrong general manager, hasn’t made a play in the passing game this season. And now he gets this guy.

“McClellin, who’s playing inside linebacker because there’s no one else to coach, seems perpetually in the trail technique. And now he gets this guy.

“The Chiefs offense will throw the ball between the hash marks. It will create picks and decisions because Andy Reid loves high-low routes, especially crossing patterns. It will teach us about McClellin’s progress, athleticism and instincts.”

Presumably Rosenbloom picks on McClellin because he’s the former first round pick – and I won’t say he’s wrong to do so. But it’s worth pointing out that his teammate inside, Christian Jones hasn’t been much better. Both look lost in coverage.

Having said that, both should get plenty of help this week. The Chiefs have one wide receiver who can catch the ball down field and that’s Jeremy Maclin. The Bears will undoubtedly do what the Bengals did to Maclin last week – roll the safety to his side. Other than that the entire Chiefs offense is short passes and handing the ball off to Jamal Charles and everyone on the defense except cornerback Tracy Porter and safety Adrian Amos will likely be keying on that.

Rosenbloom thinks McClellin is the key to this game but my money is on a patchwork offensive line. The Bengals made that pass rush look pretty ordinary last week and that gives hope that the Bears will do the same. But anyone who watched this team play the Broncos in week 2 knows that they’re ferocious when they’re on their game. And they’re almost certainly licking their chops at the thought of facing a very wounded Bears offense.

Forget McClellin and the Bears defense. The Bears will go as the offensive line goes this week.

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Signs that the Bears are Developing Along the Offensive Line are Encouraging

magazu_coachescorner_071415Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune thinks that history should provide a lesson for Bears general manager Ryan Pace:

“It’s easy to point to busted draft picks and say that is why [former Bears general manager Jerry] Angelo was dumped after 11 seasons, but trace his problems closely and they were rooted in not maintaining the offensive line.

“In a span of five drafts from 2003-2007, the Bears had 42 total picks with 23 coming in the top four rounds. Only one of those 23 was an offensive lineman and only three linemen were selected overall — one in the sixth round and two in the seventh. The fourth-rounder, Josh Beekman, made 20 starts and didn’t pan out.”

As Biggs points out, Angelo ended up relying too heavily on free agency to stock the line. But in fairness, this isn’t entirely his fault. Offensive line coaches simply have to be able to develop players that are drafted in later rounds or that are found as street free agents. It was former Bears offensive line coach Aaron Kromer‘s specialty and it was what made him so attractive as an offensive coordinator under Marc Trestman.

You can’t rely entirely on late draft picks and rookie free agents. That’s been proven, particularly at left tackle. But putting together a good offensive line is a combination of good drafting and development. If either breaks down, you’re going to fail.

In the case of the current Bears line, I’m encouraged that Charles Leno in particular was able to step in and play so well last week. It’s a very small sample size to be sure but it’s a hopeful sign that offensive line coach Dave Magazu knows what he’s doing and that he can develop talent at the position. Let’s hope it continues. They’re going to need Leno and a whole lot more this Sunday.

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