Bears special teams coach Dave Toub is one of the best in the league at what he does. I would put him up there with the Redskins’ Danny Smith and the Eagles’ Bobby April. Coaches that teach technique and always see production from their kicking units. But you still need the talent on your roster to see results on special teams.
ICON Can the Bears replace Graham's production on special teams?
Corey Graham is one of those players that always shows up on film for Chicago. In my opinion, the best coverage man in the NFL. And that brings up a solid question with the free agent CB: is he replaceable?
From a player’s perspective, I completely understand why Graham would listen to any offer he gets, because the soon to be 26-year old needs to find a club that is going to allow him to compete for playing time on defense. His situation is no different than half of the guys in this league. Make plays on special teams and develop into an everyday starter during the prime of your career. If you’re not a top draft pick, this is the path to take as a pro.
Graham did start eight games for the Bears in ’08, but unless Lovie Smith can promise him a shot at one of the CB jobs in Chicago, the team is going to have to let him walk and sign elsewhere.
That will hurt the Bears coverage units—especially on the punt team. This is where Graham makes his money as a gunner. One of the toughest jobs in pro sports speaking from my own experience playing special teams in this league. He produced 25 solo tackles in 2010 (a big number) on special teams. A lot of production to replace. And as we get closer to the end of the NFL lockout and the start of free agency, we will find out just how much Chicago (a team that wins with the kicking game) values Graham.
My take? Give him a real shot (not a false promise) to win a starting job on defense and continue to show up on coverage units. That is money well spent on a player that can impact field position when he lines up on special teams. And he might just win a job on defense also if the opportunity is there.
We've thrashed this around before, even today in another thread, but here Matt Bowen makes a strong pitch for the Bears holding on to Corey Graham at all cost. I'd like to know what the rest of you think about Bowen's position on this and your own thoughts on Lovie giving him another shot at becoming a starter at CB.
My thoughts are clear on this and I've stated them before. Corey Graham is not totally irreplaceable but it won't be easy to do so especially in light of the fact that we've lost several other very good ST players over the past couple of years. Brendan Ayanbadejo left in FA, Tim Shaw was cut last years as was Adrian Peterson, Garrett Wolfe will be gone this year, and guys like Nick Roach, Brian Iwuh, Josh Bullocks and Rashied Davis are UFA's too. We can't keep gutting Dave Toub's ST's and expect him to pull rabbits out of his hat every year. That's as much as anything could drive him to another team as well and he's one coach I wouldn't want to lose. ST's are an awfully big part of the reason why we win ballgames.
Here's the deal as I see it. It's not even all that much about money. All Graham wants is the promise to get a shot at a CB spot. A verbal guarantee that he'll get a fair chance to win a starting or backup spot. Since we're in the market for more depth and size at CB why in the hell won't Lovie give Graham, who's 6' 198lbs, a legit chance to win a spot? If it has something to do with the past then get over it and don't be stupid and let the teams best ST gunner go just because you won't give him another shot at CB.
Come on man!
I'm getting to that age where a lifetime warranty just doesn't mean as much to me anymore as an afternoon nap.
Honey Badger Don't Care. Honey Badger Don't Give a Shit.