Going into the 2018 NFL season, there are quite a few storylines, but the Chicago Bears for some reason don’t seem to be one of them.
Chicago quietly had one of the better top halves of the 2018 NFL Draft, adding SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Roquan Smith. The former Georgia Bulldog, who made All-SEC honors in 2017, was believed by many to be the best linebacker prospect in this draft. General Manager Ryan Pace was in a perfect position to draft Smith with the eighth overall selection, adding another Georgia Bulldog to their top 10 defense to play alongside linebacker Leonard Floyd.
In the second round of the draft, they then added Memphis wide receiver Anthony Miller, a receiver that certainly made quite a bit of noise in college football in 2017. He scored 18 touchdowns, racked up over 1,400 yards, and caught 96 passes. Miller was one of the steals on day two of the draft. Reports have come out of Bears training camp that Miller has picked up right where he left off for the Memphis Tigers in 2017.
Miller wasn’t the only weapon that the Bears’ front office gave to second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Over the offseason, the organization also added two of the biggest offensive free agents, adding former Eagles tight end Trey Burton, former Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson III, and former Browns and Falcons wide receiver Taylor Gabriel. They also have Jordan Howard who has rushed for back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. The Chicago Bears have quietly put together one of the more dynamic offenses in the NFL. Especially pass catchers. And it begs to question, why aren’t more people talking about them?
To put it simply, the jury is still out their second-year guy under center.
Can Mitch Trubisky answer the questions that have been attached to his name?
Ever since the Chicago Bears gave up three draft selections to move up one draft slot in 2017, the questions have been there. Is Trubisky worth giving up all those picks? Was he worth the second overall selection? Is he even worth a first-round draft pick at all? Is he capable of being a franchise quarterback?
All those questions that were there on draft night, are still there a year later. If anything, they’ve gotten a whole lot louder.
Trubisky started 12 games in 2017, going 4-8 in that stretch. He accumulated 2,193 yards, throwing seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. In those 12 games, half of them he completed under 15 passes. He had a QBR of 77.5, which was ranked 28th among quarterbacks in the NFL in 2017. You could say he had his share of rookie woes. Which was expected. Trubisky was only a one-year starter as a Tar Heel. I don’t think many people expected him to come right out the gate and shine like a Deshaun Watson did.
Going into 2018, the second-year starter isn’t going to have many excuses not to excel. The Bears front office has given him an offense most young QBs don’t see early in their career. The Bears could have one of the better receiving cores in the league next season. The weapons are certainly there for him to succeed. He’ll also have a new head coach going into this season in Matt Nagy. Nagy was the offensive coordinator for the Chiefs in 2017. They finished top 10 in total offense. Alex Smith had a career year, throwing for more yards and more touchdowns than he ever had in his career in 2017. So, you could say Trubisky is in good hands.
Can the Defense replicate what they did in 2017?
Last season under head coach John Fox, the Bears were top 10 in total yards and total points allowed. Even though Fox was shown the door by the front office, the defensive coordinator didn’t change. Vic Fangio is still there. Will Fangio’s defense be able to do what they did in 2017? Over the offseason, they re-signed veteran cornerback Prince Amukamara and added outside linebacker Aaron Lynch o.n top of drafting Roquan Smith and re-signing cornerback Kyle Fuller. The pieces are certainly there on defense for this team to succeed and repeat what they did in 2017.
Looking at their schedule, besides having to go up against Aaron Rodgers twice, Tom Brady, and Jimmy Garoppolo, they have winnable schedule. Playing the Bucs, Cardinals, Dolphins, Jets, and Bills, three teams possibly having rookie QBs playing, winning seven to eight, or maybe nine games is something that is completely reasonable for this Chicago Bears team. Having a 3-4 game improvement under a rookie head coach and a second-year starting QB is something that the front office and this organization could see as a win. Any team would take a 3-4 game improvement over a years’ time.
The Bottom Line
If you turn on Sports Center or the NFL network, not many people are talking about this team. A rookie head coach and a second-year starting quarterback who struggled in his rookie year, not many people are expecting this team to make waves. Just don’t be surprised if they do. With a new, refurbished offense and added pieces to their defense, the Bears could be ready to turn their ship in the right direction and finally give their fans a winning team.