In the early to mid-2000’s the Chicago Bears had three standout defensive backs. Two of which are now retired and the other one is currently a free agent.
Can you name them?
If you guessed Mike Brown, Jerry Azumah and Charles Tillman — then you are correct!
From 2003-2005, they combined for: 467 tackles, 22 interceptions with 487 return yards, 6.5 sacks, and three touchdowns. These guys all played solid in 2003 and 2005, however, they suffered in the 2004 season as a whole.
Still, those are impressive numbers for three combined defensive backs.
So … what’s the point I’m trying to get at here?
The Future of the Chicago Bears Defensive Backs
There is plenty of young talent in the Bears secondary. Kyle Fuller is entering his third year and ended the 2015 campaign better than he started it. (Just to keep in the back of your mind, none of the guys mentioned above had outstanding sophomore seasons either, so don’t be discouraged by how Fuller played last season)
The Bears drafted three safeties/cornerbacks in the draft; Deon Bush, Deiondre’ Hall and DeAndre Houston-Carson. The secondary also has its veteran presence with the resigning of Tracy Porter and the addition of Omar Bolden from Denver.
This creates an intriguing mix of experienced and young players.
Now, it’s impossible for any player to ever replace Brown, Tillman, or Azumah … However, there are three players on the roster that have the potential to become similar players and fulfill comparable roles.
The New Mike Brown
I can recall twice that Brown won a game with a pick-six. Once against Jeff Garcia and the 49ers, and again against Tim Couch and the Cleveland Browns. Brown also had a scoop and score against the Cardinals in that epic comeback win.
Thank you Dennis Green for letting us off the hook! 😉
So, who is going to be that guy that seems to find himself in the right place at the right time?
DeAndre Houston-Carson seemed to have that luck at William & Mary. He had 109 total tackles in 2015 and also had four interceptions and a forced fumble. While Deon Bush had 50 tackles, two fumble recoveries, and an interception at Miami University.
A quick sneak peak at my positional preview for the safety position … I think it becomes a three-way battle between Bolden, Houston-Carson and Bush.
Ultimately, I have Bush winning the position and becoming the new Mike Brown.
He plays with a lot of energy and has a tendency to be around the ball quite often. Brown is 5-10 and Bush is 6 foot even. Where Brown lacked in height, he made up in weight, and where Bush lacks a little in weight he makes up for in height.
Both are big hitters and that is why Bush will be the new Mike Brown.
The New Charles Tillman
Without a doubt, the new Charles Tillman will be Deoindre’ Hall.
They are spitting images of each other. Both are 6-2 and weigh around the 195 mark. Peanut and Hall have long wing spans which assist with the “Peanut Punch”. Hall forced three fumbles last year and is a ball-hawk evident by his six interceptions in 2015.
With some work, and if he keeps modeling his game after Tillman, Hall can follow right in his footsteps. The Bears have a new “Peanut” on their hands, and his name is Deiondre’ Hall.
The New Jerry Azumah
Azumah was hard working, reliable and always gave his all on Sundays. He missed seven games in his six seasons with the Bears. Kyle Fuller has played every game the last two seasons.
I think after the sophomore slump, Kyle Fuller earns the right to be named the new Jerry Azumah. When Azumah and Tillman played together, nobody threw too much to Azumah’s side of the field. Instead, they attempted to bully the young Tillman on the other side, which turned out to be a bad idea.
Neither Azumah nor Fuller’s stats stand out, but as a corner, it’s not a bad thing if quarterbacks aren’t throwing to your side of the field, as we saw with Fuller towards the end of 2015.
I know Fuller struggled to start last season, but give him credit. By the end of the year, you hardly heard his name. Why? He was playing solid defense not letting many passes get through on his side of the field.
Expect more of that in 2016.
You may have noticed I left off Adrian Amos, Porter and Bolden. Why?
Amos is turning into his own animal, I think he has a bright future ahead of him, however, I’m not so sure I’d call him a “Mike Brown” unless he starts creating turnovers. He had zero as a rookie, but if he can learn from his experience, and play with increased confidence, he could have a huge season.
Porter is entering his ninth year, and while he played well in 2015, he has to prove that he can produce more than 35 tackles in a season. Comparatively speaking, his career-high was 67 in 2013, which is almost double last year’s total. Lastly, Bolden has not yet had as much of an opportunity to showcase his skill set. For that reason, I’m unsure where he falls under each player comparatively.
Do you agree with my predictions on the new “Big Three”? Let us know by tweeting at us: @DaBearsBros