Chicago Sun-Times

Charles Tillman talks about his Pro Bowl experience

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INDIANAPOLIS -- After spending more than a week in Hawaii, Bears Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman appeared at a press conference for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

Tillman is a finalist, along with Matt Birk of the Baltimore Ravens and Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers.

We'll find out if Tillman is the winner Saturday afternoon, at the inaugural NFL Honors show.

But here are some insights from Tillman from Indy:

* On appreciating the Chicago media for respecting his family's privacy: "I think when we were in the hospital, you don't want to see your daughter or television, or the newspaper. So my wife and I were just trying to deal with it in the moment. The Chicago media was very respectful and respecting our privacy. And I'm sure everybody knew about it, but you chose to respect it. For that, I'm forever grateful. Coming out full circle now, I'm glad to share my story. I'm a football player, and I have the same problems, like everyone else. I'm human. And I just wanted to share my story with other people. I love my kids. She got sick. And I'm trying to give back, because someone did something so [amazing]. I'm trying to give back, like a complete stranger did to me and my family."

* On if he'll continue the foundation after his playing career is over: "I definitely will continue this. It's true and dear to our heart, and we're doing some good things. Ever since we changed the mission of our foundation, I can't tell you all the opportunities our foundation has been given. We've been put on a bigger platform to help more families."

* On how big his foundation has become, given its humble roots: "It's big because I don't mind doing interviews for work and things like that. But myself, and Matt and Philip and previous winners of the award don't really boast about what you do. You're not looking for publicity to say, 'My foundation does x, y, z.' You do it, because you want to do it. I really try not to be that guy. In the grand scheme of things, you have to promote your foundation. It means we've been doing some good things. We've been working hard, and it shows that it pays off."

* On if his daughter Tiana gets all the attention: "She doesn't understand completely. But she kind of has an idea. She has another heart. she doesn't know what a Berlin heart is. She does know that she has someone else's heart in her. The yucky medicine, or the good medicine. But to her, it's normal, because it's all she has ever known."

* On the Bears GM change from Jerry Angelo to Phil Emery: "Y'all probably know more about Mr. Emery than I do. I don't know his bio. Hawaii. No TV. Kids in the pool. I was one of Jerry's kids. I was a guy that Jerry drafted. I got a contract through him. It's a business, it's a process. Just like one day, I might get cut. I'm sure he understands that."

* On when he can leave: "I don't want to say you lose, because I don't think anyone loses if you come this far. But if you don't get the big nice trophy, I think you're free to leave Saturday, after the NFL Honors show."

* On being a finalist for an award in honor of Payton: "I have yet to accomplish half the things that this man has done. To be mentioned in the same sentence as him? Practicing at the Payton Center. You get to see... Talking to Jarrett, and Brittany. To me, that's big enough, right there. I've won, in that case. I'm in the same sentence, I've won."

* On if the Pro Bowl should consider switching to flag football: "It was an experience. I definitely had a blast. And I'm definitely looking forward to going to more. It was a great experience. Every play should experience it at least once, with their families. The whole family was there. That was one of those Griswold, family vacations. It was special.

* On the intensity of the game: "Certain plays definitely looked bad. And we could have played a little bit harder then what we were playing. I'll admit, no one is going to go out there and play like it's a playoff game. But certain plays, we could have played harder."

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Charles Tillman has been one of the most consistent performers at his ever important corner position for the past 9 seasons. It was nice to see Tillman finally get his due this season by getting his first Pro-Bowl nod. Since 2003, Tillman has been the only NFL corner with at least 20 forced fumbles and at least 20 picks. Tillman also leads all defensive backs since 2003 with over 24 forced fumbles. Thats awesome. Tillman should have been to more than 1 Pro-Bowl.

Tillman can still get the job done, but who will line up next to him this season? Will it be Tim Jennings? He's a free agent, is he in the Bears plans moving forward?. Will DJ Moore get a shot to start? He's been a very good nickleback, can he take that next step and start? Should be interesting. Chicago also has Zack Bowman, I just don't know if he'll be back, he's been a major let down every time he's gotten a chance to start.

I look for the Bears to address the corner position early in the draft. I like Iowa State's Leonard Johnson, he's a great tackler and good vs taller receivers, he may be an option for Chicago in the 2nd round? Should be interesting GO BEARS!!

Do we get the same problem with Moore that we had with Vasher, where he is best suited to the slot, and struggles when he is outside? I see a lot of similarities to their games. Both like to gamble and freelance a lot, and I could see Moore getting caught looking into the backfield instead of carrying the receiver to the safety down the sidelines. But that's just an opinion.

The Bears need to stop playing pee-wee football, and get the physical corners that we need to run the Tampa 2. We have to jam at the line, not just stand in the way, and then chase. Graham is ideally suited for the outside in the true scheme, where he is very physical, as shown by his special teams play, and is certainly capable of disrupting the timing of the receivers. He also played pretty well as the nickel when Moore was hurt. But can he hold up in coverage on the outside? Not so sure.

Jennings needs to go. Our pass rush masked a lot of his deficiencies as a cover man, as he lacks recovery speed, and he is also way too small to match up with the receiving corps the Pack and Lions put on the field.

Seattle has shown you can get good performance out of physically gifted players if you play to their strengths. They don't have to be high picks, but they do have to be able to run and change direction.

Tillman has been a stalwart in this defense, but he certainly has not been a premier cover guy. He got into the Pro Bowl for his turnover generation, and it was well-deserved. He is well past the days when he could match up with a Randy Moss and shut him down, and we need to start thinking about life after Tillman. Just like with the other aging positions on the roster (OG, DE, LB), we have to start building a stable of talent that will be able to play CB, not just a bunch of special teams players who we might get lucky with if we had to play them for a few weeks.

Emery has to make up for 8 years of roster stripping, and a complete lack of depth and talent behind an aging group of starters. He has a lot of work to do, and I don't envy him. But he has some pieces he can use to help. Wootton is more like a Calais Campbell type DE than a Julius Peppers, so maybe a team like the Colts can use a 5 technique end during their transition to a 3-4. Idonije is also more suited to a 3-4 front. Briggs is going to complain about his contract, so he might talk his way out of tow, and the Raiders and Dolphins are both converting to a 4-3, where he has some value. We won't get much for these guys, but we could get something, especially for Briggs and Izzy.

And then there is free agency...Why not sign a Robert Mathis as a pass rush specialist, assuming we don't go after Avril? Or Carlos Rogers to play CB opposite Tillman? We know we should be going after one of the big wideouts (Jackson, Bowe, Colston), but that is only one of our roster holes. We have to build our talent pool through the draft, but we still have to be able to compete in 2012, and with this roster, that will be difficult without some major additions through free agency.

We have a few weeks before the franchise tag season opens, and about a month until free agency begins. Should make for an interesting offseason.

Joe, Rogers wants to stay in San Fran and they want him to stay, so I don't think he is going anywhere. Jennings is scheme-specific, and I would not say the Pass Rush helped him much, what helped Jennings were a lot of bad throws. Jennings gets beat deep easily, and most of the times it happened the QB over threw the ball. Between Moore and Graham i nthe nickle I will take Graham, we got a nice sample size of Graham in the nickle and he looked just as good if not better than Moore, not to mention Graham has nice size at 6 feet 200 pounds and we all know he will bang against the run. Moore is even smaller than Jennings, and while he may be a play maker in the nickle he has no chance of playing on the outside. Moore has a nice nose for the ball, and makes decent reads but after that it is over for him. He is to small at 5-9 180 pounds, lacks speed, and does not have much of a burst, is a below average tackler, and is not physical at all. No way he is gonna play press man on the outside. Bears Corners need to be strong against the run and Jennings was better at playing the run than anyone else on the secondary. My theory on this is that he is very short and does not have to get low to tackle, RB's just trip over him because they don't see him.

The Bears have a lot of needs not much anyone can say about it. Secondary, DE pass rush specialist, LB, DT, yes DT. Melton is a flash player, he shows up for a couple of plays and then you see him getting blown out of the hole over and over. He gets killed against the run and should be a the interior pass rush specialist in a rotation. Peae was pretty good in limited action but it reamins to be seen if he can stay healthy and how teams will adjust to him once they get enough film. Okoye is a FA, and Adams is at the end of his run.

Lucky for the Bears on offense they only need a couple of starting recievers, a starting TE, a center, a couple of guards and a LT. Oh and maybe a RB. Yippie.

I am really looking forward to this draft, it should be really intresting to see what Emery does and to find out how much say Lovie has. We will know as soon as the picks start rolling off. The Bears say they want to build threw the draft but i'll bet anything they go heavy in Free Agency which they seem to do every other year. Would love to see a trade and given that none of these guys are Emery guys, I would imagine you would see something in the works, but then again Lovie thinks all his guys are the bestest ever and won't want to let go. I am a little worried about Peppers as well, he showed some signs of age this year. But that may just be because of the lack of off season conditioning programs. He just was not as fast as usual.

The draft is definitely on everyone's mind. I have mixed emotions regarding primary needs, but I guess I still see pass protection as a fundamental focus. A solid pass rush and key pass coverage are important, as is a game-breaking receiver, but all those needs become secondary if Cutler has the time to let his recivers get open and can control the clock with combination runs, short passes, and long bombs.

The draft is definitely on everyone's mind. I have mixed emotions regarding primary needs, but I guess I still see pass protection as a fundamental focus. A solid pass rush and key pass coverage are important, as is a game-breaking receiver, but all those needs become secondary if Cutler has the time to let his recivers get open and can control the clock with combination runs, short passes, and long bombs.

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This page contains a single entry by Sean Jensen published on February 3, 2012 4:07 PM.

Matt Forte: "I want to remain in Chicago and remain a Bear" was the previous entry in this blog.

Aftermath of Giants' SB title -- Bears so close, yet so far is the next entry in this blog.

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