As we continue with the unlikeliest (sneaky) most important Bears for the 2018 season, we move on to strong safety Adrian Amos. If you missed number 8 on speedy wide receiver Taylor Gabriel, you can find that here.
The first question that may come to mind is “Andrew, how can the Bears best player (according to PFF and Pete Prisco and the new Madden game) be sneakily important?” There might not be a single player on the Bears roster that whose performance mirrors his level of derision/praise.
Amos might be the definition of a “lunch pail” guy. He does his job, isn’t flashy, doesn’t get too high or low, and most importantly, he is available each and every week. While I cannot agree with him being the best player on the Bears, or on the defense, or in the secondary for that matter, he is certainly the type of player that winning team’s need.
Sure, Amos isn’t causing turnovers, and really isn’t all that great in coverage either, but what he does well, he does really well. In 2015 and 2016, Amos was not put in the best position for him to succeed. With the lack of a true free safety on the roster, he was pressed into service in a spot that wasn’t right for him. It wasn’t until 2017, when the Bears drafted free safety Eddie Jackson, that Amos was finally put in his natural position.
If defensive coordinator Vic Fangio wants to get the best out of his secondary, he needs to continue to run with 2 of the most successful coverage looks he has shown: press-man and cover-3. Both of these generally call for a single-high safety (Jackson) and a “box” safety (Amos), while also utilizing the strengths of cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Kyle Fuller.
For those who like to watch the defense, you will probably have noticed how much better Amos plays within 10 yards of the line-of-scrimmage as opposed to deep safety. With good speed, solid instincts, and a pair of shoulder pads that have seemingly been plated with steel, he has the opportunity to become a tone-setter for the defense.
Despite tightening rules regarding big hits, Amos has consistently been able to deliver huge blows without flags being thrown. As this defense comes together and becomes a more cohesive unit, Amos is a guy that has the ability to create for those around him. “Alligator arms,” separating your opponent from the ball, and forcing fumbles are all things that help out your teammates but not necessarily the stat sheet.
Recently outside linebacker Aaron Lynch called the Bears defense ‘a bunch of dogs.’ In my opinion, you need to have those kinds of players at each level of the defense. There are very few at the cornerback position, although Fuller might be taking up that mantle. So that generally leaves your strong safety to be that guy on the back end. Amos is already playing a physical brand of football and I don’t see that waning as he heads into a contract year.
Something that should not be overlooked is that last part. This is a contract year for a player that might find that his market isn’t what he thought. If he is able to add some turnover ability to his current big hit prowess, then you have yourself a top safety. I don’t see that happening though. Amos is simply too stiff-hipped to stay with most receivers and frankly, I think he enjoys hitting people more than anything, and that’s OK.
Adrian “Smash” Amos really lived up to his nickname in 2017. Heading into year 4, I would expect to see some sharpening of those instincts. If he repeats or improves on that performance, then I think this defense is going to be just fine.