Tim Jennings is the Rodney Dangerfield of the Chicago Bears, he don't get no respect. Jennings is once again faced with winning back his starting job even after playing at a high level throughout most of the 2011 season.
Jennings is now saddled with having to beat out two free agent additions and two rookie draft picks to keep his starting job. He's going up against a former Colts teammate in Kelvin Hayden who has previously beaten Jennings out for a starting spot.
Jennings was recently named ProFootballFocus' secret superstar of the Chicago Bears after his performance last season. According to PFF Jennings graded out as the 17th best CB in the NFL last year for his coverage ability. The year prior Jennings graded out as the 16th best CB in the NFL proving he has been nothing but consistent in a Bears uniform.
Yet somehow Jennings was benched after one bad Seattle game and is now faced with the task of winning his job. Thus far through OTAs Jennings has done just that, maintained his grip on the starting job. According to Jeremy Stoltz of BearReport.com Jennings was his pick for the MVP of the three day mini-camp.
Jennings has been very strong in run support and is very good in zone coverage, one of the best in the league at his job. While Jennings does struggle in man to man situations, most of the time he's not going to be asked to cover a receiver down the field in man to man.
What makes Jennings so strong is his ability to come up and make a tackle in the open field. With the Bears' defense designed to keep everything in front of them, Jennings does just that. In the run game, he can hold the edge and make the tackle or force the action back inside toward the linebackers. In the passing game he can break down and tackle the ball carrier in the open flat areas outside the numbers to prevent first downs.
While the point can be made that the Bears were 28th in the NFL against the pass last year, there needs to be some context added to that statistic. The Bears faced some of the best QBs in the NFL last year, QBs who put up record breaking passing yards on the season. The Bears faced eight of the top 13 passers in the NFL last year in 10 games (Stafford and Rodgers twice) meaning they were exposed to a lot of offense last year.
With the offense struggling without Jay Cutler, the defense grew tired and wore down during the latter part of the season. When the offense is one of the worst teams in the league for going three and out on offense, it puts a lot of pressure on the defense and wears them out. This also contributed to the high number of passing yards allowed by the Bears.
The biggest compliment that could be paid to Jennings this off-season did happen figuratively and literally as the Bears locked him up to a new two year deal worth $6.6-million. With that level of financial security, it's up to Jennings to continue to provide the coverage security he has for the Bears over the last two seasons.