Chicago Bears head coach John Fox seems very high on Kyle Fuller's potential to become a breakout star in 2015. Fuller was one of the few players Fox mentioned by name when talking about his new team after he was hired, and the 2014 first round pick has continued to impress both Fox and his defensive staff this offseason.
New Chicago defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and defensive backs coach Ed Donatell both got an up close look at Fuller back in week two of the 2014 season, when Fuller had 7 tackles and 2 interceptions in the Bears' 28-20 win against their San Francisco 49ers. Fuller was actually a leading defensive rookie of the year candidate early last year before injuries started to slow his progress.
With his rookie year behind him and a full offseason to prepare to play professional football, I'm expecting Fuller's game to take a big jump. This year he's coming in as Chicago's top corner and the new coaching staff will expect him to play like one.
Fuller will be asked to do a lot more under Fangio than he was under Mel Tucker. Fangio will press on occasion, he'll play some quarters coverage, but he mixes up off man with zone and he'll utilize pattern matching schemes. For more on pattern matching you can click here, but in layman's terms, it's like a zone, but the defensive backs are reading the receivers in front of them and the routes they read will determine which defender takes which receiver.
Fuller will be the first to tell you that he didn't play very well last year, but I really think the nagging injuries had something to do with that. He sprained his ankle in preseason, then suffered a hip pointer and broke his hand during week 7. He still suited up for week 8, but was forced out after re-aggravating his hip injury. He had a minor MCL sprain week 12, but that didn't stop him from playing week 13 against his brother on Thanksgiving.
After being dinged up last season and after having surgery for a sports hernia in 2013 at Virginia Tech, Fuller will need to prove he's not injury prone in 2015. Fuller definitely has the ball skills, the speed, the smarts and the physicality to become a central cog in the Bears new D, but he has has to put it all together.
Do you think he becomes a legit #1 corner for the Bears this season?