It is hard to think that a 10-year veteran coming off a Pro Bowl season to be on a major decline, but evidence this off-season makes it a valid assumption. The Reports that were coming out of Chicago Bears training camp was that Tim Jennings, and not Charles Tillman was overall the best cornerback throughout camp.
Not only was Brandon Marshall abusing Tillman on a daily basis in practice, but he was also having trouble with 2nd round rookie Alshon Jeffery, Earl Bennett, and to some extent Devin Hester.
The struggles in practices have obviously spilled over to the preseason games, with him having some sub-par performances the past 3 weeks against the Denver Broncos, Washington Redskins, and most recently the New York Giants.
Against the Giants, Tillman struggle mightily in front of a national audience. Rather it was Victor Cruz, rookie Rueben Randle, or Ramses Barden (who roster spot looked to be in danger before his 3 catch 46 yards, and one touchdown performance), Tillman simply didn’t have an answer for any of the three.
It was possibly Tillman’s worst performance since the 2005 divisional playoff game against the Carolina Panthers, where Steve Smith caught 12 catches, 218 yards, and 2 TD’s, with a majority of the damage happening when Tillman was lined up against him.
So is Tillman on the decline? In my opinion Tillman has been declining for the past couple years now. He no longer can flip his hips and run with smaller faster WR’s, and struggles against big WR’s that are skilled route runners (see Vincent Jackson last year and Larry Fitzgerald from 3 years ago).
Bears fans should expect Head Coach Lovie Smith to continue putting Tillman in position to succeed this season. Expect Smith to continue using Tillman against Bigger slower WR’s, where he can re-route them by being physical with them at the line of scrimmage.