Vasher: The Defensive Player to Watch

| August 11th, 2009

Nobody.  Not Zack Bowman.  Not Danieal Manning or Craig Steltz or Al Afalava.  No player on this team’s defense is about to undergo a more important run of preseason games than Nathan Vasher.  And reading the start of David Haugh’s disappointing, yet unsurprising Trib column doesn’t breed a great deal of optimism:

On a sweep to the defensive right side, cornerback Nathan Vasher
correctly read run. Vasher quickly closed and technically put himself
exactly in the spot where the Cover-2 playbook says he should have
been, in a position to force everything inside of him or, better yet,
make the play himself.

Vasher then feebly offered a shoulder and approached running back Garrett Wolfe
in a way that personified the word tentative. New secondary coach Jon
Hoke, the respected defensive-back mechanic hired to tinker under
Vasher’s hood, immediately reminded Vasher the Bears were wearing full pads for a reason. So try using them.

Picking one play out of two weeks of training camp at Olivet Nazarene
unfairly represents any one player. But that six-second span the other
day during a full-team drill summed up a dilemma nagging Vasher in
particular and the secondary in general: right place, wrong timing.

I don’t usually paste that much of a column onto this blog but there’s a couple things at play.  (1) It’s impeccably written and I’m often very critical of Haugh’s style.  (2) It illustrates what many believe is the problem with Nate: his heart is not in the game.  Why?  Because according to this ESPN article, Vasher earned $15.6 million of his $28 million contract by the end of the 2008 season.  I like to think that isn’t the answer but I’ve learned to know better.

Vasher must start all of these late summer contests and face the best these opponents have to offer.  If he struggles, Lovie Smith can not afford to start him against the best passing attack they’ll face all season on September 13th.  I’m starting to wonder if they can afford the roster spot at all.