Kindle Vildor, CB
Vildor has been ruthlessly dogged by fans, mostly deserved, but he was also hurt by the decisions of the previous coaching staff.
The Bears really liked Vildor after his rookie season and he played well in the playoff game against New Orleans. But why Sean Desai felt comfortable leaving the second-year corner from Georgia Southern on an island game-after-game last year is a mystery. A reasonable expectation would’ve been for Vildor to be a reserve in his second season. Instead, he barely had to compete for a starting job and was left to his own, oft-limited resources.
When Vildor played well as a rookie it was in Chuck Pagano’s zone concepts. As a result, they held a 13-win Saints team to 14 points through three quarters. Vildor gave up four catches on four targets, but limited receivers to just 24 yards. He was also seven-for-seven on tackle attempts.
The 2021 coverage statistics for Vildor look horrendous — he allowed a passer rating of 136.1 — but the tape isn’t nearly as bad. He was often in position to make plays but failed at what some refer to as “the moment of truth”. (This is when the ball arrives, and the receiver and cornerback have to battle to get to it.)
It’s also worth mentioning that several of the touchdowns blamed on him appeared to be coverage breakdowns, including the Week 15 game in which he jammed Ihmir Smith-Marsette and went to cover the flat before realizing nobody followed the Vikings wide receiver into the end zone.
Vildor was benched midway through last season but came back and played well. He played 133 snaps combined the last four games and allowed a total of 57 yards, while fan favorite Thomas Graham Jr. played 112 snaps and allowed 67 yards. (It’s worth noting that much of the yardage Graham gave up was on a 41-yard touchdown pass because Dasai left him on an island with fricken D.K. Metcalf).
As bad as he was at times last year, the new staff seems to like Vildor. While we maybe shouldn’t read a lot into the decision to demote Jaylon Johnson to the second team in an OTA, it is worth noting that it was Vildor who replaced Johnson in the starting lineup. If Vildor can be disciplined in zone coverage, make plays when they’re available and continue as a sure tackler, he can have a future with this team.