Not since Mike Brown patrolled the back end of Chicago’s defense from 2000 to 2008, have the Bears had a comfortable feeling about the level of play they’d receive from safety. But even during his time in Chicago, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. From ‘04 to ‘07, Brown missed 43 games. The Bears have been desperately trying to fill a void at safety for a long time.
How many Bears’ fans remember these fun names; Craig Steltz, Al Afalava, Major Wright, Chris Conte, Brock Vereen, Brandon Hardin, Ryan Mundy, Antrel Rolle, just to name a few.
This offseason the Bears dipped back into the free agency pool, and they landed safety Quintin Demps, who I have as the sixth most important Bear for the 2017 season.
Demps was mostly a backup and special teamer early in his career, but he started to hit his stride as a professional in 2013 with the Kansas City Chiefs, which was his third team (4th of you count his brief time with the UFLs Hartford Colonials). He started 6 games that year in K.C., while playing in all 16, and he had four interceptions. His play landed him a one year deal with the New York Giants in 2014, where he had another 4 interceptions, and this time he started 9 of the 16 games he played in.
The last two years found him back with the Houston Texans (his 2nd NFL team), and he started 26 of 27 games. Last year was his true break out season, as he racked up 6 interceptions and Pro Football Focus had this to say about him.
The Bears free agent safety addition adds some ball hawking to that secondary pic.twitter.com/nQ89ZL9DO9— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) July 12, 2017
Demps was considered a leader on and off the field for the Texans last year. “Quintin is kinda how I describe (Texans running back) Lamar Miller: he’s a pro’s pro,” says his former head coach in Houston, Bill O’Brien, via the Chicago Sun Times’ Patrick Finley. “He showed up everyday with a great attitude, was always out at practice. He’s not a rookie anymore. I think he’s (31) years old. I know his body didn’t always feel good. But he was out there taking his reps in practice, showing up early, watching extra tape.”
Demps recently turned 32, but if it’s possible to be a young 32, then Demps is that. During his first five years in the league, he didn’t start a single game, while appearing in only 48. He really is a late bloomer and he says the film shows him playing like a 25 year old.
You can check out a film review of his play and a highlight reel from 2016 and see for yourself.
I think the Bears are counting on Demps to, not only provide a stabilizing force in the secondary, but to also help out which ever young player ends up starting at free safety alongside him. Rookie Eddie Jackson, 2nd year pro Deiondre' Hall, or third year pros Adrian Amos and Harold Jones-Quartey, will all be fighting to earn the job next to Demps.
Here’s more from his former head coach Bill O’Brien,
“He had a very productive year for us this year, especially at it related to takeaways. … Good tackler. If we asked him to help us on special teams, he would help us on special teams. Good team guy. He’s a good pro. Hopefully a lot of our young players learned a lot from him from watching him operate on a day to day basis.”
Demps is one of three new defensive backs the Bears added in free agency, and I think he’s the most important.