Schedule: @DET, NYG, @ATL, IND, TB, @CAR, @LAR, NO, @TEN, MIN, BYE, @GB, DET, HOU, @MIN, @JAX, GB
Additions: QB Nick Foles (Trade), EDGE Robert Quinn (FA), TE Jimmy Graham (FA), OL Germain Ifedi (FA),
CB Artie Burns (FA), TE Cole Kmet (Draft), CB Jaylon Johnson (Draft)
Losses: OL Kyle Long (Retired), LB Nick Kwiatkowski (FA), QB Chase Daniel (FA), EDGE Leonard Floyd (FA), DL Nick Williams (FA), OL Cornelius Lucas (FA), S HaHa Clinton-Dix (FA), DL Eddie Goldman (Opt-out), CB Artie Burns (Injury)
Is there a more fun quarterback situation than Chicago’s? Sure, they’re not very good, but Nick Foles and Mitch Trubisky are at least going to make us laugh. You’ve got the most improbable Super Bowl winner and greatest tweeter of all time on the same team. From an entertainment standpoint, that’s tough to beat.
On the field, not so much. While Trubisky is the week one starter, expect a flip-flopping on the level of the 2018 Bucs. Unless the Bears somehow make it to January and we get to see playoff BDN, quarterback play is going to hold this team back. Well, offensive play in general, actually. Outside of Allen Robinson, the offense sucks.
You have to feel bad for Robinson. He’s gone from Blake Bortles to Trubisky/Chase Daniel to Trubisky/Foles throwing him the ball. It doesn’t get much worse than that, yet he still produces.
The rest of the receiving corps doesn’t make it look as easy. At this point in his career, Ted Ginn runs fast, and that’s about it. Anthony Miller lacks consistency. While Ryan Pace worked hard to acquire 47 tight ends, none of them are that great. Rookie Cole Kmet has a bright future ahead of him, and Jimmy Graham had a bright one behind him. Together, they should offer decent, unspectacular tight end play.
Running back David Montgomery was hyped up all offseason before flopping last season. His current groin injury doesn’t bode well for a breakout year. Neither does the poor offensive line. With Germain Ifedi the only new starter, substantial improvement from the unit is a long shot.
Luckily, Chicago has an offensive genius who can maximize the little talent they do have. Oh wait, they don’t. I didn’t think Matt Nagy deserved the COTY award in 2018 and last year showed why. That team was great because of Vic Fangio and the defense, not Nagy or his offense. While I think he’s a solid coach overall, Andy Reid’s disciple isn’t in the play-calling stratosphere of Big Red.
Offensive ineptitude sunk the Bears last year, but the defense taking a step back didn’t help, either. Was it really regression, or just the result of the offense consistently putting them in awful spots? I’d say more the former than the latter, as Chicago’s defense was unsustainably great in 2018. Along with the league-lead in takeaways (36), they scored an insane 6 touchdowns. Unsurprisingly, they came back to earth last year, finishing with just 19 takeaways and 1 touchdown. As a result, Chicago went from a +12 turnover differential to 0 in 2019. That played as big a role in the four-win drop as anything the offense did.
Besides the fluky drop off in takeaways, Chuck Pagano did an admirable job filling in for Fangio. With the talent he has, the defense could be in for a bounce back. Robert Quinn is a great complement to Khalil Mack on the edge. His arrival, along with a return to form from Mack and lineman Akiem Hicks (only healthy for five games), could vault the pass rush back to the top of league rankings. Besides those two stars, most of the key contributors from the 2018 unit remain on the team.
Outside of minor worries like a rookie possibly starting at corner, Chicago’s only weakness could be stopping the run. Eddie Goldman opting out was huge. One of the better nose tackles in the league, he’s clogged the middle of the Bears defense for years. If that doesn’t sound like a huge deal, consider this: the best way to neutralize a pass rush is to run the ball down their throats. Goldman’s loss could be felt all across the defense.
Chicago’s defense needs to be almost perfect to make up for the offense, so that could give opponents just enough of an edge. The defense being dominant all game only to have a couple plays decide a 20-17 win or 24-20 loss is a theme I expect all season.
However, if the offense can scrape together enough decent drives, Chicago could ride a pretty easy schedule to the postseason. This team finished 8-8 last year, so a return to the playoffs really isn’t that far-fetched. I just think the offense is going to be a huge burden once again, and the slight defensive weaknesses will keep them from carrying the team. If I’m right, watch out for Nagy getting canned.
What’s your record prediction for the Bears? What did I get right or wrong? Sound off in the comments.