Let’s be honest, there’s a chasm between the local perspective on Chicago Bears safety Adrian Amos and the national perception of him. And it works contrary to what we’ve come to expect.
Traditionally, the local media and fans have a deeper understanding and appreciation of the talent in any given city while the national media takes longer to come around. Even when they do, they paint with broad generalizations.
With Amos, it’s entirely the opposite. The national media is in love with the former fifth-round pick, while locally there are some reservations. The adulation of him is driven mostly by Pro Football Focus.
The popular analytics company grades players with useful metrics (albeit imperfect ones). Amos was graded as the NFL’s second-best safety in 2017 with a 92.0 grade, labeling him as one of the elite players at the position. However, Bears fans look at Amos a little more modestly.
It’s not that fans don’t think he’s a good player. He has helped solve a longstanding issue at safety for the Bears, and there is a general appreciation for what he’s done in Chicago. It’s just that they see him being put into a category with Harrison Smith and Earl Thomas.
He’s a sure tackler who makes very few mistakes in coverage, which is something PFF values extensively and with good reason. As a safety, missed tackles and blown coverages are negative game changers.
However, over a decade of watching the Cover 2 has given Bears fans the idea that something might be missing. Amos isn’t the disruptor they’ve come to know and love yet.
Turnovers are difficult to forecast because so much of the statistic is about being lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. Yeah, it takes skill to put yourself in those positions. But then you’re still reliant on ball placement, which you have no control over, to provide opportunities to create turnovers.
That’s why you obviously can’t expect Amos to routinely give you Kevin Byard’s level of turnover production (8 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries). Byard can’t even be expecting those numbers consistently after creating 0 turnovers in his rookie season.
Still, Amos only has a single interception, 3 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries in 44 games. Even worse, he’s only defended 10 passes during that time, so he simply hasn’t put himself in a lot of those positions.
It shouldn’t be the defining statistic for Amos by any means. Although, people who haven’t yet embraced the analytics movement tend to lean on it heavily with safeties. But having him disrupting more frequently would add an element to his game that is lacking. No one wants him playing recklessly by any means, but a calculated risk every now and then would go a long way.
The other hurdle Amos still has to clear is the organization’s outlook on him. Throughout his tenure, the Bears haven’t been entirely sold on him as the long-term answer. Despite starting in his first two seasons, he actually started the 2017 season behind Quentin Demps on the depth chart. It took Demps’ broken arm to clear a path for Amos to have his darling season in the first place.
This year, there’s even been rumblings that Deon Bush could challenge him for reps in training camp. That’s probably more motivational ploy than anything, as Amos and Eddie Jackson make a pretty strong pair in the back and provide stability for Vic Fangio’s defense.
However, he is entering the final season of his rookie contract and the Bears haven’t done an extension yet. That could simply be a matter of timing. It’s still early in the summer, and they’ve got a deal to do with Eddie Goldman, as well. But it also could be a calculated risk.
The organization has the franchise tag at its disposal, so they may be willing to let a portion of the 2018 season play itself out for confirmation on his value before they do a deal. Because even if he builds off his 2017 season, they could simply tag him to keep him.
Ultimately, Amos should certainly factor into the Bears’ long-term plans. This is merely a nitpick. But with outlets (guess who) trumpeting him as a burgeoning star, it’s worth noting that his game isn’t complete just yet.
A 92.0 grade on a 100 scale would seem to indicate he’s awfully close to the cusp of perfection, but he’s simply not. Not even PFF would want you to think he is. They simply believe he’s undervalued, and they’ve made sure that he’s gotten his praise.
Bears fans are glad to have Amos, but they have good reasons why they’re not quite as sold on him.