Greedo’s Name Sucks: Is Tyvon Branch the Answer for the Chicago Bears?
Remember poor Greedo?
Yeah, he’s the guy in Star Wars that got shot by Han Solo in the Cantina. And all he was trying to do is make an honest living claiming bounties for Jabba the Hutt. I mean, if you were named after one of the Seven Deadly Sins, you’d be pretty ornery as well. And his parents were so unimaginative, that all they did was place an “o” at the end of their favorite Deadly Sin. I suppose they could have also gone with Wratho, Gluttono (which actually sounds like something Chef Boyardee created to scare people with gluten allergies), or Slotho (which is my personal favorite). But I doubt it would have made a difference.
Heck, Greedo was so pathetic that the powers that be (i.e. George Lucas) had to recreate “reality” by making it look like Greedo at least got a shot off first before Han killed him. Unfortunately, the net effect of this was making Greedo look even worse, because now he fired basically for no reason and missed by a good mile and a half. Unless he was aiming for the trim on the wall behind Han’s head. In which case, well done, Greedo. Well done. Personally, I think he just accidentally left the safety off and … well, I suppose the rest, as they say, is history.
The point is, sometime you hear a name and you have visceral reaction to it. With Greedo, your reaction might be “what a poor slob” or “idiot” or “didn’t he ever practice shooting that thing?”
So what’s your reaction to the name “Tyvon Branch”?
As much as he sounds like he could have been a character from Star Wars (or Game of Thrones), your first reaction to his name might be something along lines of “meh”. And I don’t blame you.
Branch was one of the up and coming stars at strong safety in the NFL. He was drafted in the fourth round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders and proceeded to start a solid climb through his rookie year until he was injured and missed half the season. But 2009 through 2011 were breakout seasons for Branch, with over a 100 tackles each year. With this performance, he even garnered a franchise tag from the Raiders in 2012. Unfortunately, Branch suffered a season ending injury (broken leg) in 2013 which lingered through a foot injury in 2014 and ultimately led to his release.
But the potential is still there, as Branch is still only 28, and did perform well in 2014 when he managed to stay on the field. It’s not really scientifically accurate, but if you project out his performance from when he was on the field in 2014 through 16 games, you end up with 160 tackles and 5 sacks. He’ll probably never be at that level, but 90-100 tackles is definitely achievable, with a ceiling that’s potentially much higher than that. And the Bears need all the potential they can get at safety.
As I discussed last time, I think free safety is the bigger issue, but strong safety is also a good place to upgrade. Branch should be available at a discount due to his durability concerns, and if he stays healthy, his upside is considerable. The Bears have the cap space to sign him in addition to another safety (or draft a safety), which they should seriously consider to help bolster their sieve-like defense (which was 3rd worst in terms of yards allowed in 2014).
Branch is a hot commodity in this safety starved free agency and has already had visits with the Colts, Redskins and Chiefs. So the time is now, Chicago, don’t wait. He might not be the entire answer, but he has potential to go a long way towards solving the problem. Go get him.
Heck, even Greedo couldn’t miss this one.