The Chicago Bears benched cornerback Kyle Fuller in Sunday's loss to the Arizona Cardinals. This less than 18 months after the Bears selected Fuller witht he 14th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
It's been a swift, disturbing freefall for a former first-round cornerback who held so much promise this time last season.
Remember, heading into Week 3 last year, Fuller was coming off a two-interception performance against the San Francisco 49ers. He then picked up a league-leading third interception against the Jets, helping propel the Bears to a 2-1 record.
Yet Fuller struggled mightily from that point on and didn't pick another interception until Week 16. He was no better during this year's off-season or preseason, and has again been a liability in coverage through two regualar-season contests.
That resulted in a late-game benching against the Cardinals.
“He just needs to play better," defensive coordintor Vic Fango said today. "I know that’s a vanilla answer but [he needs to] execute his assignment and technique correctly and the plays will come to him. Until he does that, he’ll struggle a little bit. But he’s capable and hopefully he’ll start doing that."
Fuller's preparation and focus were recently by teammate Antrel Rolle.
“Kyle has to be a true professional and he has to be a true studier of film," Rolle said on Chicago radio this week. "And more importantly, he has to play with his strengths. If you’re going to press a guy, you have to make sure you put your hands on a guy. You can’t line up in front of a guy and then not disrupt him whatsoever.”
Fangio echoed the need for Fullerk to work harder on his craft.
“I don’t know that it’s a lack of attention to detail. It’s hard to put a finger on that," Fangio siad. "I just think he has to execute better. Whether it’s during the week or on game day, he’s just got to execute better.”
Fangio compared Fuller's issues to those of Tiger Woods
"I think ultimately it’s playing with confidence," said Fangio. "Tiger Woods these past two years hasn’t been the Tiger Woods we know and everybody’s over-analyzing him. The fact is that he hasn’t been able to take his game from the range to the course and he’s not been playing with confidence.
“Kyle’s got to be able to take his game from the practice field to the game field and play with confidence. You’re not going to have confidence until you do good things. You can’t just can’t say 'I’m whoever' and go out and play and have results.”
Fangio admitted he might have to spend more time with Fuller to help re-build that confidence.
“Just stay positive with him, keep coaching with him, show him the details, the techniques, just keep coaching him and try to help," Fangio said. "Maybe I need to help him more.”