There’s not much national optimism regarding the Chicago Bears for the 2020 season.
A lot of these predictions were made with a pretty shallow understanding of this team. Lets check out this team.
2019 IN REVIEW
Chicago’s expectations were sky high following a division title in 2018. The 2019 season started off strong to the tune of a 3-1 record. From there, key injuries and awful Quarterback play brought on a four-game losing streak. Despite remaining in playoff contention, the season ended in a disappointing 8-8 record.
This team had a lot of issues:
- Abysmal offensive line play: According to PFF, Chicago went from the 11th OL in the NFL in 2018 to the 25th in 2019. This was a huge part of a horrible 3.7 yards per rush.
- Their top tight end, J.P Holtz finished the season with 7 receptions for 91 yards.
- The injury of their defensive leader Akiem Hicks and the worst year of Khalil Mack‘s career because of it.
- Chicago was bottom of the league in 3rd down conversations and Touchdown percentage in the red zone.
- Abysmal Quarterback play in a critical year from Mitchell Trubisky (No need to say more).
Yet they were a missed field goal from finishing 9-7.
In response to failure, Chicago immediately hired three new offensive coaches: Bill Lazor (OC), John DeFilippo (QB’s) and Juan Castillo (O-Line and run game coordinator). All of them had prior relationships with Head Coach Matt Nagy and his offensive system.
Chicago was driven to fix their weaknesses by bringing in three tight ends (Jimmy Graham, Demetrius Harris and rookie Cole Kmet), a top tier pass specialist (Robert Quinn), speed at receiver (Ted Ginn, Darnell Mooney) and a talented rookie corner (Jaylon Johnson).
Most notably the team traded for former Super Bowl MVP QB Nick Foles to compete with Mitchell Trubisky at Quarterback. It’s no coincidence that Chicago brought Nick Foles in. Foles ran the same offensive system in Philadelphia and has a prior working relationship with all of Chicago’s offensive coaches.
(If you are curious for an in-depth breakdown of this trade check out my prior article).
KEYS FOR SUCCESS IN 2020
- Coach Matt Nagy’s ability to adjust after his first difficult season. Will he continue to rely on his inconsistent quarterbacks and abandon the run game for major stretches?
- Making Third Down conversions and scoring Touchdowns in the red zone.
- Controlling the time of possession will keep the defense rested. This will lead to more sacks, QB hurries and turnovers
- The Quarterback effectively running the offense like a “point guard“.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
David Montgomery enjoyed a nice rookie season ending in 889 yards on the ground and 185 in the air with 7 TD’s. Despite a training camp injury, expect the team to rely on the shifty, hard to tackle 2nd year back.
Jimmy Graham: Almost everyone laughed when the Bears spent 10 million on the “washed up” vet Jimmy Graham. Word out of training camp, however, is that the vet has brought energy to the offense and is dominating competition while most importantly mentoring rookie Cole Kmet.
REASONS FOR PESSIMISM IN 2020
You will not win a Super Bowl without a great Quarterback unless you have an all-time great defense.
Sadly, the Bears do not have the most important position in sports figured out. Mitch Trubisky (Your week one starter) is heading into bust territory. The back-up (Nick Foles) has major health questions. It doesn’t help that the Quarterback’s may not be able to stay upright as Chicago is relying on a coaching change to fix its broken offensive line.
There are questions about the coach. If Matt Nagy didn’t learn from his mistakes all of last season, can we trust him to do so now? Will he have Mitch Trubisky throw 50 times again after abandoning the run game in the 2nd Quarter? If that’s the case, we can expect the defense to wear down by Week 9.
On the divisional front, the Vikings and Packers are good teams. It’s quite possible that drafting Jordan Love lights a fire under Aaron Rodgers leading to an MVP season. With the addition of Yannick Ngakoue, the Vikings look prime to return to the playoffs as long as Cousins doesn’t choke. You never know- Detroit could make a run behind the amazing Matthew Stafford.
REASONS FOR OPTIMISM IN 2020
This division is weaker than past seasons and a 10-6 record could win it. The Packers were history’s worst 13 win team in 2019 and the 49ers exposed them twice last year. Minnesota, while very talented, is relying on two rookie corners, lost four defensive starters and arguably their best receiver. Detroit is difficult to trust as long as Matt Patricia is coaching.
Optimistically, the hiring of Juan Castillo should shift the offensive focus to running the ball. The new tight ends should allow the offense to function as it should (Similar to Kansas City and Philadelphia). These changes should open up the field for a few huge plays per game from their play markers. Nick Foles will eventually replace Trubisky and simply operate the offense effectively (He doesn’t have to be great).
The Bears defense looks comparable to 2018. The addition of Robert Quinn and return of Akiem Hicks will take the triple team’s off of Khalil Mack and lead to a huge bounce back year for him. Pressuring the quarterback, along with safety Eddie Jackson shifting back to his primary position, will increase the team’s turnover numbers.
If healthy, I expect the defense to remain a top 5 unit in the in the NFL.
When it comes to the offense, well, the Bears were historically bad in 2019:
Something to think about: Matt Nagy has a close relationship (and speaks in “bitmojis”) with Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid. Reid loves Nagy. I have no doubt the coaches have discussed 2019 and Reid gave Nagy advice. I expect Matt Nagy to heed this and changes to be made. So…
If the Bears offense is league average they will not only be in playoff contention but contention to win the NFC North.
If Mitchell Trubisky finally is able to put it all together and live up to his draft position, the Bears will not only be in the playoffs but will be a favorite to go to the Super Bowl.
But If none of the above happens, the Bears will win between 5 and 8 games and some important people will be seriously on the hot seat.
I believe that the division will come down to Week 17: Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears. I won’t predict, however, who will win.
Final record: 10-6, Tied for 1st in NFC North
- / 2 years ago
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