Just one week ago, it was Breshad Perriman who went from never used on the Chicago Bears to scoring a game-winning touchdown off the hands of Tom Brady.
Perriman never saw the field for the Bears, who chose to release him just days before he signed back with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was Matt Nagy’s decision to keep Perriman off the field for some reason, but after that overtime game-winner, one had to wonder why the league’s worst passing offense couldn’t at least give Perriman a shot.
Monday night, the Bears took on the Minnesota Vikings in prime time. The Bears were decimated at defensive back. Going into the game, they only had four members of the active roster available in their secondary.
Then, rookie sixth-round pick Thomas Graham Jr. was activated from the practice squad and given the green light to start. From his first few snaps, it was abundantly clear: this kid has it. The only question is, why was Graham stashed on the practice squad all year when the Bears had no answer at cornerback opposite Jaylon Johnson?
Matt Nagy’s failure to recognize and develop talent like Thomas Graham Jr. will be one of the many reasons he is fired by the Chicago Bears.
Although the Bears lost the game, Graham was brilliant. His final line via PFF:
10 total yards allowed
0 first downs allowed
3 passes defensed
90.7 grade via Pro Football Focus
Bears fans were watching this game in disbelief. How on earth could this kid have never seen the field all season long? Better question: how did the Bears nearly risk losing him after they chose to waive Graham back in August?
We were succumbed to watching Kindle Vildor give up a passer rating of 136.2 this season (through Week 15) while missing tackles left and right. We were even tricked into believing Artie Burns was a halfway decent starter once he supplanted Vildor — because it couldn’t have gotten worse.
The Bears were reeling all season long at their CB2 position and it was arguably their most glaring weakness in terms of personnel. Yet, this entire time, a rookie out of Oregon was waiting for his shot.
Look, this should come as no surprise, here. Graham was known for his ball skills at Oregon. In fact, he totaled 32 pass breakups in three seasons there. Talent evaluators constantly used phrases like “well-built frame” and “impressive ball skills” when writing pre-draft content around Graham.
Graham was no. 76 overall on Pro Football Focus draft board’ back in the spring. That means he was evaluated as a sure fire third-round pick, but fell to the sixth. The Bears stole this kid, and never used him.
The fact that Graham balled out in his debut should be yet another nail in Nagy’s coffin. He has proven that he cannot evaluate, nor develop talent. If you think the Perriman or Graham situations are bad, just take a look at rookie quarterback Justin Fields.
You want to talk about being held back? Fields’ development is the most important of all players on this roster, and with Nagy at the helm, he is destined for failure. There are many reasons Nagy should be fired, but this area is mind-numbing.
Nagy has to go, and he has to go now. But, are Ted Phillips and George McCaskey ballsy enough to make that move in-season?