Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Rookie Review: OLB Khaseem Greene
By Michael C. Wright
Stats: 38.5 total tackles with 26 solo stops and 12 assists, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, ½ tackle for lost yardage, and two stops on special teams.
2013 Role: A fourth-round pick, Khaseem Greene joined the Chicago Bears with the expectation he’d provide depth and contribute on special teams, but was thrust into the starting lineup on Nov. 24 at St. Louis and responded with an eight-tackle performance.
“I think we saw [him] ascending,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said in November.” It’s not a speed thing or ability thing, just in his ability to assimilate the information, get better each and every day, and we did see that. And his teammates saw that as well, and I think that’s exciting.”
At the same time, Trestman pointed out that at the end of the season there were times he saw “Khaseem do it right” and other times when he did “it wrong.”
The good: Upon first glance of Greene at organized team activities, minicamps and training camp, the linebacker certainly didn’t look the part. But once the team initiated competitive team-on-team situations, Greene flashed, displaying the qualities the team raved about upon drafting him. Greene led the Bears in tackles during the preseason with 16 stops, including two for lost yardage, leading to optimism about his prospects for shining when called upon to take on a key role.
Greene played a total of 236 snaps as a rookie, and flashed instinctual play and the run-and-hit traits the Bears covet in their linebackers.
The bad: Out of position on too many occasions, Greene struggled to get off blocks, which was sometimes a byproduct of the struggling defensive line’s inability to keep offensive linemen off him. Because Greene plays on the weak side, theoretically, he should be freed up to run around and make plays. But Greene didn’t do that often enough, and sometimes looked totally lost when bad reads -- not efficient play from opponents -- took him out of plays. Ultimately, the game looked too big for Greene. That is to be expected of a rookie, but what is somewhat concerning is that he didn’t appear to gain any level of consistency as he gained experience.
Looking ahead: Like most of the players from the 2013 draft class, Greene possesses the attitude and humility to honestly assess his play, and take the necessary steps to correct the mistakes for a better showing in 2014. The upcoming offseason conditioning program will be especially important for Greene, who needs to improve strength, explosive power, and short-area quickness. Greene figures to develop into a full-time starter at some point in his career, but 2014 might be too soon for him to take that step.