Bears Cut Underachieving Archuleta

Better Sooner Rather Than Later – Don’t Let The Door Hit You On The Way Out!

With Intriguing Talents Like Kevin Payne & Craig Steltz Waiting For The Opportunity To Get On To The Field – The Time Was Now, And The Move Was Inevitable: 3 Things came to mind when I first heard about this greart move: 1. About Time! 2. We’ll get to see if the younger players are ready to make plays! 3. Ricky Manning Jr. is up next! The Bears on Tuesday parted ways with the disappointing, “can’t tackle nor cover” Adam Archuleta. Playing in 14 games with 10 starts in 2007, the veteran safety registered 63 tackles, two sacks, one interception and one forced fumble.

The Bears acquired Archuleta from the Washington Redskins on March 22, 2007 in exchange for a sixth-round draft pick. The former Arizona State athlete had been benched by the Redskins midway through the 2006 season after signing the richest free-agent contract by a safety in NFL history.

With the Bears, Archuleta struggled in run support and pass coverage mightily (an understatement)! He broke his hand in a Week 3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, sat out one game, and then returned the following week. He eventually lost his starting job in late November to Brandon McGowan.

The 5-foot 11, 215-pound defensive back had a tough, short-lived season in the Windy City, as he failed to return to form and deliver the type of consistent production the team counted on at their injury-plagued safety position. Archuleta was not his former self in ’07, as he showed more timidness than boldness, playing with a lack of confidence and fire. He once was a hard-hitting safety who displayed adequate skills in St. Louis when Bears coach Lovie Smith and defensive coordinator Bob Babich were Rams assistants. Now he’s a slow-footed safety who has lost more than just a step, while being endanger of having to hanging it up (calling it quits). He will try to rebound from his past two forgettable seasons – pending a team is ready and willing to take a chance on him during the downside of his career. Will he ever return to form and be a starter again?

Now as we move on let’s look at Chicago’s plans at the Safety position: You have Danieal Manning, Kevin Payne, Craig Steltz, Brandon McGowan, and the “heart and soul of the defense” when healthy – Mike Brown, all expected to be in line as participants for the two starting roles. The outlook for this all-important position, because they play a lot of Cover 2 defense, is to implement Mike Brown as much as possible, hoping you can play him at full-strength throughout the year to anchor the defensive backfield at Free Safety. Brown will be the FS because he has the most awareness/smarts, instinctiveness/ballhawking ability, and he’s the best playmaker out the bunch. Look for Payne, McGowan, and Steltz to battle for the Strong Safety spot – with Danieal Manning switching in & out for Brown and whoever is in at SS. I’m really intrigued by Payne, he’s the biggest hitter out of the group and has the right skills to succeed at SS. Payne reminds me of a younger version of Mike Brown and has the versatility and ball skills to start every game. He is terror on the field and has the best combination of strength and speed out of the young guns. Steltz is a rookie who can make an immediate impact – but is way too slow. I expect him to ease in and relieve only if there are injuries – it’s going to take awhile for him to adjust to the NFL game speed. McGowan on the other hand has the physical talent that Steltz doesn’t necessarily have, but is the most inconsistent and unreliable of the safeties. He still is getting a “feel” for the Cover 2 and his responsibilities as a coverage defender and his tackling is shaky at best in the open field. As for Manning, he’s more of a FS and has been up and down like McGowan, but should improve in ’08 because he has that natural God-given talent that can help him to become the starter next to Mike Brown if Brown stays healthy, as I see Manning going back to FS and Mike Brown moving back to his original home at SS – being that constant force as a run supporter and good open field tackler while Manning works his way up (most experience at FS) as the playmaker he should be at FS.

Back 2 Fundamentals – Overcome ’07’s Lackluster Performance: If the safety position is in any way, shape or form like it was against A.P. & Co versus Minnesota in Week 6, we could be in for yet, another long year on defense, and if that’s the case it’s obvious to expect more problems to continue.  If you get what you expect to get out of a “healthy” Mike Brown, who we are counting on again in ’08 – taking a big chance/risk, we can get back to being a Top 3 Defense that is one of the elite in the NFL because Brown will help mentor Manning, Payne, McGowan, and Steltz with just his presence on the field – with his health being the biggest reason we get this defense back to the upper echelon level where it should belong!

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