Cornerback Tim Jennings has earned a new contract
BY ADAM L. JAHNS Staff Reporter December 10, 2013 10:44PM
Updated: December 11, 2013 5:53PM
With so many players in contract years, a bevy of defensive issues to rectify and only so much money to go around, re-establishing a viable defense won’t come easy.
But cornerback Tim Jennings is proving he’s worth keeping around.
Jennings wanted the challenge of facing Dallas Cowboys standout receiver Dez Bryant on Monday night. And although Bryant had a two-yard touchdown catch, he finished with only two catches on four targets at Jennings for 12 yards.
Jennings has greater responsible these days with Charles Tillman on injured reserve. Up next is the Cleveland Browns’ very talented Josh Gordon, the NFL’s leading receiver.
“I haven’t seen much of him, but I’ve heard about [Gordon],” Jennings said. “He’s been having a great year, man. A Pro Bowl kind of guy. A big receiver, a big physical receiver.”
With an offense finally around to take the pressure off the defense, it’s not surprising that some defensive players want to return, regardless of what their emotions were after the firing of Lovie Smith.
Jennings wants to remain here.
“Most definitely,” Jennings said. “You don’t want to be that guy who bounces around from team to team. You want to find a home with what fits well for you and just make it your career there. Hopefully, everything works out and I can be here for the long haul and retire here, but I also know the nature of the game and how the business works.
“But I think I have a lot of football left in me.”
Signing a two-year, $7.6 million deal with the Bears before last season was definitely the right decision for the Indianapolis Colts’ second-round pick in 2006.
“It’s been the resurrection of my career,” said Jennings, 29. “My start off in Indy was a slow start, but once I got here, I wanted to finish strong. Everything has worked out well.”
The Bears’ defense is missing Pro Bowl players — Tillman, linebacker Lance Briggs and defensive tackle Henry Melton — and defensive end Julius Peppers’ talents only show up sporadically.
But Jennings still is playing at or near the level that saw him go to Hawaii for his first Pro Bowl last season.
He has three interceptions (including two pick-sixes), two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
“I’m my worst critic,” Jennings said. “Of course, I got a couple turnovers. I got a couple touchdowns earlier in the year, but in the second half of the season I haven’t been able to get my hands on the ball.”
But advanced statistics services such as Pro Football Focus and STATS tell you that Jennings still is keeping the ball out of the hands of opponents. And he’s showing he transcends schemes, too.
“We kind of do it all: man, zone, fire-zone [blitzes],” Jennings said. “Anything you can name, we kind of do it all. They might say I’m a [prototypical] cover-2 corner for how physical I am, but we kind of do it all here. I’ll label me as a football player.”