For Chris Conte, The Battle Is In His Head


Sep 7, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson (22) rushes the ball against Chicago Bears free safety Chris Conte (47) in overtime at Soldier Field. Buffalo Bills defeat the Chicago Bears 23-20 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, Chris Conte is the most talented free safety that the Chicago Bears have on their 53-man roster.

What does that mean?

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  • That means that Conte, based off talent, should be the starting free safety for the Bears.

    But, what about Conte’s poor performance on Sunday in the Bears’ season-opening loss to the Chicago Bears?

    Did Conte play poorly on Sunday? Yes. Was Conte the sole reason why the Bears’ allowed 193 rushing yards to the Buffalo Bills? No. Was Conte the reason why the Bears lost 23-20 to the Bills in overtime? No.

    The last play of the Sunday’s game prior to Dan Carpenter‘s game-winning field goal is likely a play that will be played over and over again in the minds of Bears fans. On the play, Conte was stiff armed by Bills’ running back Fred Jackson on several occasions and the lack of a take down by Conte allowed Jackson to run the ball to within feet of the goal-line.

    Here is the thing about that play.

    Before Jackson even took the handoff from Bills’ quarterback EJ Manuel, the Bills were already in field goal position. Conte was operating under the assumption desperate times call for desperate measures. That would be why instead of going for clean tackle on Jackson, Conte was trying to strip the ball away from the Bills’ running back. If it worked, Conte likely would be considered a hero as that could have led to a Bears’ victory. Instead, Conte’s lack of strip has led to the safety once again being the scapegoat.

    Being the scapegoat is something that has consumed Conte. Conte no longer is thinking about football while on the field. Instead, Conte is obsessed with the idea of proving the fan’s hatred for him to be misguided. What that has done is only increase the disdain for Conte among Bears’ fans.

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    Conte needs to get back to playing football and not giving two cents about what the fans think about him. Conte, in 2011 and 2012, has shown in the past that he is capable of being a respectable safety in the NFL. But after the fear of late-hit penalties and concussions crept into Conte’s thought process, the safety’s tackling ability has decreased.

    In addition, when it comes to Conte’s defense against run, remember that the safety is the last line of defense on running plays. The true impact players when it comes to defending against the run are the defensive linemen and linebackers. Those are two units that struggled mightily for the Bears on Sunday. With an improved effort from the defensive line and linebackers, Conte’s defense against the run likely would not be a talking point.

    Talent warrants Conte being the Bears’ starting free safety. Though, that is only because Bears’ general manager Phil Emery failed to add an impact player at the position during the off-season. In terms of the NFL as a whole, Conte is worthy of being on an active roster, though, only as a backup safety.