One thing is for certain, Evan Rodriguez needs to stop getting arrested.
The 6-2, 239 pound fullback was arrested (again) last week, on charges of DUI, speeding and an improper lane change on one of Chicago’s expressways. When added to his previous run-ins with the law (arrested in 2007, 2009 and early 2013), the Bears may have a character issue on their hands that needs to be corrected sooner rather than later. Although the organization has helped to publicize Rodriguez’s apology and seems content with continuing a relationship with the beleaguered fullback/tight end, coach Marc Trestman must have a significant offensive role planned for Rodriguez that makes it worth keeping him around amidst so much off-field controversy.
There is no question that Rodriguez could be a versatile and impactful player on an offensively-revamped Bears squad. In Trestman’s West Coast offense, which relies on speed and passing success, Rodriguez can excel both out of the backfield in his traditional fullback role or as a receiving tight end. As a tight end, Rodriguez’s 4.53 40-yard dash time places him in the upper echelon of tight ends in terms of speed, which could be a focal point of Trestman’s new scheme. Although he is slightly undersized as a blocker and was not utilized as a blocking force frequently during his first season with the Bears, Rodriguez could serve as a chipping tight end or fullback, knocking blitzing ends and linebackers off of their track and providing Jay Cutler with precious seconds in the new timing offense. Rodriguez will also be a viable option in the screen game, both as a downfield blocker, as well as a receiver.
Even though Rodriguez will almost certainly become an impact player on the Bears in the coming years, he will have to fix his off-the-field issues before his role with the team can come to full fruition. With four arrests in the last six years, Rodriguez must commit himself to a lifestyle more fitting of his role as a player in the National Football League. When the Bears drafted him in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL draft, they undoubtedly understood that Rodriguez’s character could be an issue. At this point, General Manager Phil Emery must offer an ultimatum–fix the behavior off the field, or find a new team.
With so much upside, Bears fans can only hope Rodriguez responds.
Jake Wittenberg is a Chicago Bears writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @jakedwittenberg, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.