The Chicago Bears will get their 2021 regular season started in a little more than one week, so the 53-man roster they have right now is probably going to be the group they take into Los Angeles to face the Rams on Sunday Night Football. I was hoping for some different faces at cornerback from the guys they had in all offseason, but the Bears were content to go with the same cast.
And that could be a problem.
The Bears opened up with Jaylon Johnson, Kindle Vildor, Duke Shelley, and Xavier Crawford on their initial roster, and then after a day they brought back veterans Artie Burns and Marqui Christian. So for those scoring at home, that’s a CB1 with a lengthy injury history, a second and third year player that have yet to establish themselves, a career practice squadder, and two free agent retreads.
There’s not a lot of success in that group.
Burns and Christian were likely just cut so the Bears had some wiggle room to then place Teven Jenkins and Danny Trevathan on IR, and since both defensive backs were vested veterans they weren't exposed to waivers.
But it’s not like anyone would have wanted them anyway.
Besides second year pro Jaylon Johnson manning their top corner spot, I honestly have no idea what the Bears plan is at nickel or the other starting corner position. No one has stood out in the three preseason games, no one has really taken control of the positions during training camp, and while it seems like it’ll be Vildor (CB2) and Shelley (NB) running out with the ones in L.A., it could very well be Burns and Christian facing the Rams.
Bears general manager Ryan Pace cut Pro Bowler Kyle Fuller back in the spring and he replaced him with Desmond Trufant, a 30-year old who has struggled with injuries the last two years.
That was really Pace’s only plan.
Trufant, who was dinged up and away most of camp due to the passing of his father, was one of the Bears final cuts, so he could be an option again at some point, but does Trufant even get this secondary to a passable level?
New defensive coordinator Sean Desai has his work cut for him, and perhaps the disguised coverages he learned from Vic Fangio will be all this group needs, but that’s a ton of faith to put into a first year coordinator.
It’s also unrealistic to expect the pass rush to make up for all the deficiencies in the back end, because we’ve seen opposing offenses go to the quick game, bootlegs, and moving pockets to keep Chicago’s pass rush honest. An improvement in the front seven will definitely help, but at some point Vildor and Shelley will have to cover, and no one wants to see that.