Anytime an All-Pro enters the picture, it changes things. The Chicago Bears did that with safety Adrian Wilson. What does his addition mean?
Phil Emery and Mel Tucker need stability, not youth at safety
First and foremost is the promise of what Wilson is, or was in this case. At one point he was considered one of the very best safeties in the NFL, great against the run and good against the pass. However, an Achilles injury last year and the fact he turns 35 soon have raised doubts about his viability, which is fair. However, the key regarding the Chicago Bears is not centered on what he was but what he can be for them. GM Phil Emery and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker spent the entire off-season rebuilding what was the 30th ranked defense with fresh talent.
They added three solid defensive ends in Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston and Willie Young. Cornerback Kyle Fuller arrived from the 1st round in the draft, followed closely by defensive tackles Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton in the 2nd and 3rd. Things certainly look improved on paper, but questions linger at safety. The pressing concern at the moment is not that the Bears don’t have superstars there. What they are looking for is stability. They want players who will do the right thing on almost every play, take the right angles and be in the right position. Wilson has proven over a long career that he can do that, regardless if he’s older than most would prefer.
Ryan Mundy has legit competition on strong side
More than that though is something Phil Emery has alluded to since he took over as GM. He wants the Chicago Bears to evolve and grow through roster competition. He wants multiple good players fighting for jobs because it tends to bring out the best in them. At present there is really nobody to threaten free agent Ryan Mundy at strong safety. Since coming in the 29-year old has remained the clear cut favorite to start at the position, taking every meaningful rep with the first team in practices. Nobody else has even come close to challenging him. Is that a testament to his ability or a lack of credible depth? It’s really impossible for the Bears to know. So that is another reason they signed Adrian Wilson. Even in his elderly state the veteran is a credible threat to Mundy, who has never started a full season anywhere else he’s played. If he were to lose the competition with Wilson, Chicago would have their answer.
The fact is there was minimal harm for the Chicago Bears to make the move. If it doesn’t pan out they lose a small among of money. If it does? They have a stable force at safety for 2014.