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Football Outsiders: It’s too soon to write off Bears’ safety Adrian Amos

NFL: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

We recently had the chance to shoot a few questions over to the guys at Football Outsiders, who are the preeminent source for data, analysis, and statistical breakdowns on the NFL. Their DVOA, which “measures a team's efficiency by comparing success on every single play to a league average based on situation and opponent,” is one of the best measures of team success you’ll find.

The Football Outsiders’ 2017 almanac, which covers the upcoming NFL and college football season is a must read. It’s chocked full of neat stuff that you can spend hours, and hours poring over.

When we sent our Bears’ questions over to FO, we didn’t realize that we’d get the Head of Football Outsiders and ESPN Insider analyst, Aaron Schatz, to be the one responding to our questions, but we did, so lucky us.

Before Aaron got down to the nitty-gritty, he let us know that Cian Fahey wrote the chapter in the Almanac on the Bears, but since Fahey left for ESPN, he’d be responding personally.

WCG - The Chicago Bears brought in a free agent safety and they also drafted a safety, but how did holdover Adrian Amos do last year in coverage? He’s started 30 games in his two years, so is there a chance he can hold down his starting job?

Aaron - I think Cian makes a good point in the secondary comments in the book: Given where the Bears are in the team development cycle, did signing Quintin Demps make sense? Demps is not a bad player, but he’s certainly not a star, and he’s 32. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have Amos and Eddie Jackson play together, develop together, and learn how to communicate on the field together?

Amos had poor coverage metrics from Sports Info Solutions charting as a rookie, and he was mediocre last year (59th in adjusted success rate, a much better 27th in adjusted yards per pass). But metrics for safety coverage are going to be less trustworthy than metrics for cornerback coverage -- more than any other position, it can be very hard to tell off film what a safety’s real responsibility was on the play without having the defensive coordinator there to answer your questions. I don’t think Amos could be written off as purely a backup at this point. It’s a building year, why not see if a 24-year-old can get better?

WCG - The Bears added two new corners, Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper, both at relatively inexpensive prices compared to some of the top-tier free agents out there. Do you think these two will be a big upgrade to their defense? And any chance Kyle Fuller can bounce back after missing all of 2016?

Aaron - Amukamara and Cooper had similar charting metrics last year: poor on adjusted success rate because they gave up more short passes (73rd and 72nd) but reasonable on adjusted yards per pass (45th and 48th). Amukamara has more of a track record and given the year-to-year inconsistency of cornerback stats (and, honestly, how cornerbacks look on film as well) I think it’s safe to consider him a league-average starter.

Cooper is more of a JAG {just another guy}, dude’s on his fourth team already. As for Kyle Fuller, sure, there’s a chance he’ll bounce back. He was a useful player in his first two seasons. I’ll admit that as an outsider who is following all 32 teams instead of deep-diving into the world of the Bears, I can’t figure out what the deal is between Fuller and the Bears’ management. He had an injury. It happens. They suggested last year he was being lazy, then this year they say he’s working hard. I don’t know why they’re chomping at the bit to minimize this player. Reminds me of Eric Rowe, a second-round pick the Eagles soured on. Bill Belichick plucked him away and he was a useful boundary corner for the Patriots last year, allowing Logan Ryan to move into the slot. Maybe this is a “needs change of scenery” psychological situation but if I’m another team that needs a cornerback, I would like a chance to be part of that change of scenery.

Now it’s your turn. Sound off in the comment section about the Bears secondary.

You can follow FO on Twitter here - @fboutsiders

Aaron Schatz can be found here - @FO_ASchatz

And you can pick up your copy of the Football Outsiders Almanac 2017 right here.

We’ll have part two of our Q&A with FO, this one all about the offense, tomorrow.