Tillman is still a warrior and played his heart out this year despite not one but two banged-up shoulders, but his limited ability in coverage coupled with the team's need for help at safety might mean it's time for him to make a positional switch. Vasher, on the other hand, has played in just 12 of 32 games since signing a $28 million extension before 2007, and he probably should have been benched even before moving to the injured reserve list with a recurring wrist/thumb issue. While second-year pro Corey Graham still has a long way to go, he's got the size and toughness to be a successful Cover-2 corner and outplayed Vasher – a one-time Pro Bowler – more often than not.
Sure, the defensive line didn't pressure enemy QBs very well and contributed to a pass defense ranked just 30th in the NFL, but the corners didn't cover anybody either – be it man-to-man or zone.
Inside the Numbers
Having Tillman, Vasher, and Graham all on the field at the same time doesn't seem likely because Manning is the player ideally suited for nickel situations, meaning something has to be done and done right away. Since Mike Brown again proved to be an injury waiting to happen and unable to play a full 16-game schedule, moving Tillman to free safety might be the best way to take advantage of his considerable in-the-box talent yet hit-and-miss coverage skills. The Bears could do much worse than Graham at left corner and Vasher at right, but Graham needs to take the next step and Vasher has to recapture the magic he had earlier in his career – Zack Bowman, the rookie who starred for one game before being shelved on IR, could be in the mix, too.
This team has too many holes at other positions to justify a Day-1 draft pick at corner, so bringing in a second-tier free agent like Phillip Buchanon or Bryant McFadden might bolster the depth chart enough.
John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.
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